WASHINGTON – The House has passed legislation that would outlaw the slaughter of dogs and cats for food – a practice that, although rare, is still legal in 44 states.
The bipartisan bill by Florida Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Alcee Hastings, a Democrat, would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to ban the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption in the United States. It was passed Wednesday by voice vote.
The bill makes it illegal to knowingly slaughter, transport, possess, buy, sell or donate dogs or cats or their parts for human consumption. Violators would be fined up to $5,000.
Buchanan said he is optimistic the Senate will pass the Dog and Cat Meal Trade Prohibition Act before Congress adjourns this fall. Animal protection has been one of the rare issues where lawmakers have found bipartisan agreement.
"Dogs and cats provide love and companionship to millions of people and should not be slaughtered and sold as food," Buchanan said.
The House also passed a nonbinding resolution urging other nations to end the dog and cat meat trade. It asks the governments of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India and other nations to ban consumption of the animals. Taiwan last year became the first Asian government to outlaw the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption.
"This bill is a reflection of our values and gives us a greater standing in urging all other countries to end this horrific practice once and for all," Hastings said.
The House action was cheered by animal rights groups, who say there is a small underground market for dog and cat meat in the United States.
It is illegal in all states for slaughterhouses to handle dogs and cats, and it's illegal for stores to sell the meat. However, individuals in most states can kill and eat a dog or cat or sell the meat to other people.
"These animals are our dutiful companions and not our dinner fare," said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action.