Newly passed legislation in the House of Representatives bans the slaughter of dogs and cats for food. The bipartisan bill, named the Dog and Cat Meal Trade Prohibition Act, was introduced by Florida Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Republican; and Alcee Hastings, a Democrat. The bill, which would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act, makes it illegal to knowingly slaughter, transport, possess, buy, sell or donate dogs or cats or their parts for human consumption.
Animal rights groups say there is a small underground market for dog and cat meat in the United States. While the practice of consuming these animals is rare, it is still legal in 44 states. Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York and Virginia explicitly ban cat and dog consumption.
Current laws do not outlaw individuals killing dogs or cats for personal consumption or sale to another person for consumption. It is illegal in all states for slaughterhouses to handle dogs and cats. It is also illegal for stores to sell the meat.
Buchanan wrote in the bill, “Dogs and cats provide love and companionship to millions of people and should not be slaughtered and sold as food.” Under the new legislation, violators of the act would be fined up to $5,000. There is an exception to this rule for Indian tribes. The bill has a provision that Indian tribes can engage in this behavior “for the purpose of a religious ceremony.”
After the bill passed, Hastings released a statement saying, “I am proud to have championed this effort in Congress to explicitly ban the killing and consumption dogs and cats across the United States, and am greatly appreciative of my friend and colleague Congressman Buchanan for taking the ‘Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act’ across the finish line today.” Buchanan said he is optimistic the Senate will pass the bill before Congress adjourns later this fall.
The House also passed a non-binding resolution asking the governments of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and India to end the dog and cat meat trade. Taiwan has been the only Asian country to outlaw the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption, passing laws against it last year.