The huge uproar over a Tongan man found barbecuing his pet dog is a demonstration of cultural insensitivity bordering on ignorance and hyprocrisy. Paea Taufa was found roasting the pitbull terrier-cross in an umu at his Mangere home. “If we eat heaps of… pig you get a (sore) stomach. But when we eat … dog, it doesn’t matter how much you eat, nothing is wrong with the tummy,” Taufa told Sunday News. Major dailies reported this, and today CNN carried the story, citing “the case infuriated and repulsed many New Zealanders.”
The Tongan guy had decided to cook the dog because it was too skinny and had become unmanageable. He rendered the dog unconscious with a blow to the head before slitting its throat. Under the Animal Welfare Act it is legal to kill a dog in New Zealand if the animal is slaughtered swiftly and painlessly.
The SPCA is very upset with Taufa, with the CEO saying “Even though the law says you can humanely kill an animal, you should not be treating any animal like this.” Many people are now calling for a law change, led by the SPCA, petitioning for the eating of dog meat to be banned. Various editorials swiftly condemned the practice of eating dog meat. The Tongan guy was demonised and probably traumatised, and he has since told media that he wouldn’t bbq another dog.
I am opposed to any attempt to ban the eating of dog meat and backyard dog barbecues.
New Zealanders love their meat and is only behind Demark globally (and ahead of the Americans) in terms of per capita consumption, 3.5 times the world average. The average Kiwi eats over 90 kg of meat per year, 65% red meat vs 35%
What is the difference between sheep and dogs? Some argue that dogs are pets. But some sheep are pets too. So are some chickens. Why ban the consumption of one type of meat but not another?
It is more inhumane for most of the pigs in New Zealand to be locked up in cages for all their lives and then slaughtered for their meat, than for Mr Taufa to kill a free-range dog swiftly. Why did people not revolt against pig farmers, especially after Mike King’s expose on TVNZ’s Sunday? When told that the cost of pork in supermarkets will rise significantly if farmers moved to free-range farming, people stopped complaining.
Some argue that cattle and sheep are raised specifically for their meat, and dogs are not. By that token would the protesters be placated if enterprising individuals started dog farms in New Zealand? We export tonnes of horse meat offshore. This means we are killing farm horses in huge numbers. Would horse-killers be regarded as barbaric too?
The argument that we cannot kill dogs for food because they are cute/friendly/small/intelligent doesn’t wash. We don’t see our vegetarian friends getting all judgemental when we meat-eaters confess our love for meat (as long as it’s not from an endangered species). Why can’t meat-eaters afford the same courtesy to dog-eaters? No one is asking you to join them.
SPCA CEO says: “The slaughtering, roasting and eating of a dog or nolvadex pils other companion animal is simply abhorrent to our culture as New Zealanders”. Dogs were eaten in New Zealand long before the Europeans arrived. Taufa himself is probably a NZ citizen. The SPCA is venturing into dangerous territory by becoming an arbitrator of what is culturally right or wrong.
The main thing that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should be worried about is exactly that, prevention of animal cruelty. As long as animals are slaughtered in a humane manner, then what people eat should be left up to them.
The law doesn’t need to be changed. It’s the hypocritical mindset of protesters coming from the second biggest meat-eating country in the world that does.