Here’s a nauseating fact: Eating cats and dogs is legal in Australia. Our friends at World Dog Alliance in Hong Kong have reached out to us to help close this loophole and join the majority of other countries around the world that have prohibited eating cats and dogs. The last thing we need is another species of animal on the plate.
Cats and dogs are beloved family members in countless homes across NSW, so you would be forgiven for thinking that it is illegal to eat them.
The reality is that only in South Australia is it illegal to consume cats and dogs. Here in NSW only the sale of cat and dog meat is illegal, meaning that killing these animals at home and eating their flesh is not. This creates a loophole where people can eat these animals provided they are not taking payment.
Our animal protection laws only protect cats and dogs from being killed in an explicitly cruel manner prior to being eaten. It is only when the slaughter caused the animal unnecessary pain or leads to the animal to have a prolonged death, can it constitute an offence under the general cruelty provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 or the Crimes Act 1900.
In other words, even if the RSPCA is made aware of cats and dogs being eaten, unless they can prove cruelty, there is little they can do. There are no laws to stop it.
These loopholes occur across the country and lead to sickening incidents.
In 2015 a skinned Cavalier King Charles spaniel was found at Raby, in Sydney. A vet confirmed the dog had evidence on her head of a captive bolt pistol, a device used for stunning animals prior to slaughter usually in an abattoir, leading to speculation that this incident was linked to an underground market for dog meat.
Just last year in Tasmania the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania served up a dish of dead cat as part of an art exhibit.
The fact that this is still allowed to occur is in stark contrast to community expectations.
Each year we see widespread condemnation of the controversial Yulin dog meat festival, or action taken against the continuing sale of dog meat in holiday hotspots. People are horrified to find out that every year millions of dogs and cats are bred, stolen and slaughtered around the world for their flesh.
It has now been a year since I introduced a petition of more than 500 signatures requesting that the Government introduce legislation to completely ban the consumption of cats and dogs in New South Wales. It has been a year, and yet the Government has taken no action.
We cannot wait any longer. It’s time to close the loopholes allowing this brutal underground activity to be carried out, because while it remains, all cats and dogs in NSW will remain at risk.
But consider this too: Finger pointing at other cultures is easy — what’s harder is recognising that no animal wants to suffer and die for our palate. Fish or chicken or pig or dog- they have the same ability to feel pain, the same ability to suffer, and the same capacity to experience joy.
Yes, let’s be outraged by the legal loophole that allows companion animals to be eaten in Australia. Let's push to close that loophole. But let's also extend this compassion to all animals, and leave every species off the plate.