The Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA)- Promoting the protection of dogs and human health
An alliance has been formed in South East Asia comprising the Soi Dog Foundation, the Humane Society International, Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation. The alliance has been named the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA). The primary objective of this organisation is to work together to stop the cruel and illegal trafficking of live dogs from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to Vietnam, where they are slaughtered and eaten by humans.
Who Is ACPA?
The Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) is an international alliance of animal protection organisations committed to improving the welfare of dogs in the region by ending the illegal trade in dogs for human consumption- a trade which represents both a severe and prevalent animal welfare concern in the region, and a risk to human health by facilitating the transmission of rabies and other diseases, such as cholera and trichinellosis.
In Vietnam, approximately 5 million dogs are slaughtered each year for human consumption. Many of these dogs are sourced from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to ensure supply meets demand in the restaurant trade in Vietnam. The dogs are stolen from the streets, packed tightly into small cages, and transported overland for days without food and water. Numerous reports have documented the severe cruelty inherent in all stages of the dog meat trade; sourcing, transportation, sale and slaughter.
ACPA is determined to stop the trade in order to improve animal welfare in the region, and to stop the unnecessary suffering of man's best friend. This goal can be further justified on health grounds, as the unlicensed movement and human consumption of dogs in the region promotes the transmission of rabies and other diseases, such as cholera and trichinellosis. Given the governments of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam have made a joint commitment to eradicate rabies in their countries by 2020, ACPA's initiative can clearly help them in part to achieve this.
The Issue: The Illegal Trade in Dogs for Human Consumption
Whilst dog meat is consumed in several regions of the world, including parts of Europe, Russia, Africa and Latin America, the availability of dog meat is most widespread in Asia, where the welfare concern is greatest due to the large numbers of dogs being taken from the street or sourced from farms, transported long distances and inhumanely slaughtered, to provide for the demand for dog meat.
After being sourced from the streets, either through catching roaming dogs or by stealing pets, the dogs are transported long distances, often lasting for days, tightly packed into small cages with no food, water or rest. Many die from suffocation, dehydration or heatstroke long before they reach their final destination.
For those who survive, the grueling journey ends at a slaughterhouse, market or restaurant. The method by which dogs are slaughtered varies between countries, provinces, slaughterhouses and restaurants, but hanging, beating, and bleeding out from a cut to the throat or groin are all common ways of killing millions of dogs every year, often in full view of other dogs. There is a common misperception in the region that the more adrenalin running through a dog when it is killed, the tastier and more tender the meat will be.
The Dog Meat Trade – A Human Health Risk?
Whereas dogs used to often be eaten for reasons of poverty, increasingly dog meat has become a delicacy, and often consumed for its perceived medicinal properties. However, there is a growing body of evidence highlighting the significant risk the trade, slaughter and consumption of dogs pose to human health. For example, the trade in dogs for meat has been linked to outbreaks of trichinellosis, cholera and rabies, and slaughtering, butchering, and even consuming dogs increases people’s exposure to these diseases.
Over recent years in Vietnam, for example, there has been a number of large-scale cholera outbreaks directly linked to the dog meat trade. This has led to warnings from both the Central Bureau of Preventative Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) that the movement of dogs and consumption of dog meat facilitated the spread of the bacteria that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae), with the WHO stating that eating dog meat was linked to a twenty-fold increase in the risk of contracting the disease.
What role does the dog meat trade have in spreading rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease spread from animals (usually dogs) to humans, which is nearly always fatal. It represents a serious public health and animal welfare problem around the world, but is most commonly found in Asia, where an estimated 39,000 people die of rabies every year.
With rabies remaining endemic in most countries in the region, many of the dogs traded for human consumption are likely to be infected with the disease. The national and international transportation of dogs used for human consumption means that infections are easily spread. Even in places such as Thailand where dog meat is rarely consumed, the demand for the meat in neighbouring countries provides an economic incentive for traders to transport dogs between provinces. In this way, the unregulated movement of dogs is likely to impede local efforts to eliminate rabies.
The presence of the rabies virus in dogs destined for human consumption has been revealed in studies carried out in slaughterhouses and markets within China, Vietnam and Indonesia; and the risk posed by the dog meat industry to human health is similarly reflected by the reported transmission of rabies to those involved in dog slaughter, butchery and consumption in the Philippines, China and Vietnam.
However, this information isn’t new – throughout Asia where the trade in dogs for meat occurs, it fails to comply with national animal disease prevention measures, and is in breach of rabies control and elimination recommendations by key human and animal health advisory organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the dog meat trade has specifically been cited as a contributing factor to recent rabies outbreaks in both China and Indonesia within various studies and by the World Health Organisation.
What is ACPA doing to end the illegal trade in dogs?
The dog meat trade is a highly contentious and emotive issue in most countries where it is popular, and as a result of mounting national and international concerns for animal welfare, rapidly increasing pet ownership in Asia, and a greater awareness of the human health risks associated with this industry, the opposition towards the production and consumption of dog meat has become increasingly vocal.
However, at present, insufficient resources are allocated to enforce existing disease control regulations. This results in the continuation of an industry that causes a significant cost to human health and the suffering of millions of dogs every year.
ACPA is committed to ending the illegal dog meat trade, and we will do this by ending the supply of dogs and demand for dog meat, by:
• Working with and supporting the governments and local authorities of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam to enforce existing regulations, so as to help ensure these countries’ fulfill their pledge to eliminate rabies by 2020.
• Highlighting the human health risks associated with the trade in and slaughtering, butchery and consumption of dogs;
• Providing humane and sustainable dog population management solutions;
• Promoting responsible pet ownership; and
• Encouraging a compassionate attitude towards dogs by highlighting the positive roles they play in society.
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