Who’ll Let the Dogs Out?

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Dog farmers staged a protest in the South Korean capital Thursday to oppose the government’s plan to ban dog meat consumption, a centuries-old tradition in the country, Time reported.

About 200 protesters rallied near the presidential secretariat in Seoul, where they tried to release 100 dogs. Police stopped the truck carrying the animals, preventing the farmers from completing their scheme.

Nonetheless, the Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association continues to raise the prospect of unleashing the two million dogs they are raising near government buildings and residences of lawmakers who worked on the legislation.

In a politically consensual move seldom seen, the bill would require businesses involved in the dog meat trade to provide their plan to phase out of the trade, while the state would provide a three-year buffer period and financial support. Those who refuse to comply could face a fine of $38,000 and up to five years in prison.

The Farmers’ Association said the proposed aid was inadequate and added that lawmakers failed to consult them, Reuters reported.

The ban proposal follows a series of failed efforts of its kind – but comes within the context of public opinion having shifted paradigms. A 2022 Gallup Korea poll showed that two in three Koreans frowned upon the practice of eating dogs. From 27 percent of respondents declaring they had eaten dog meat in 2015, the number fell to eight percent last year.

More than six million Korean households own dogs as pets rather than livestock.

With the rise of Korea’s soft power – through the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas – the opposition argued that increased international attention is another reason for the country to move on from dog meat consumption, reported Time.

Other advocates of the ban include animal rights activists, who called it a “dream come true.”

They told Time that, while plummeting rates of dog meat consumption are already jeopardizing the industry and pressuring farmers to transition to other forms of trade, groups protesting the ban represented only a small minority going against the interests of their peers.

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