Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 8 April 2001 Issue:
St. Bernard Outrage
Activists say China breeds giant dogs to eat
By BRAD HONYWILL AND MICHAEL CLEMENT, TORONTO SUN
Animal-rights activists are snarling at China over allegations of widespread torturing and eating of St. Bernard dogs.
They're trying to take the giant dogs off Chinese menus by serving up information about the practice to the International Olympic Committee.
People concerned about animal welfare say China -- where dogs have been raised for the table for centuries -- is breeding St. Bernards for food. Other Asian countries including the Philippines and Korea also raise dogs to eat.
What's more, animal-welfare activists claim Chinese butchers are deliberately torturing them to stimulate the production of adrenaline, which is said to make the meat tastier.
Eleonora Moser, a Geneva, Switzerland, activist who took the photo on Page 1 of today's Toronto Sun and another on this page while in China last year, is with the group SOS St. Bernard Dogs International.
She said the butchering of dogs started about four years ago in a lab in Shenyan, China, which was studying which meat was the most suitable for consumption.
"They figured out that the St. Bernard was the most suitable and profitable" as a livestock dog because of their fast growth and large litters, Moser, 50, told The Sun.
Moser says purebred St. Bernards in China are generally preserved, because of their value, and are cross-bred to produce the fast-growing offspring to be eaten and possibly tortured.
However, New Zealand activist Elly Maynard told The Sun last night that one restaurant in China has a menu with "regular" dog meat and a second special menu with St. Bernard meat as a more expensive delicacy.
And Moser said one breeder told her he's selling 35 to 40 kg of St. Bernard cross-bread meat daily.
The breeder imported 20 purebred St. Bernards two years ago and now he has 100, Moser said. And the breed, unheard of in China just a few years ago, now numbers 5,000 to 7,000.
Moser has written IOC officials saying that "we cannot allow the Olympic Games to take place where animals are so badly mistreated."
Opponents are asking that Beijing not be awarded the 2008 Games over Toronto and three other cities because of the practice.
Malcolm Lowe of Unionville, Ont., is one of many animal lovers around the world pressuring their national governments, the United Nations and the IOC on the issue.
"Is this the kind of country you want hosting a world event? No. They're just not ready for it," Lowe said yesterday.
Maynard, who sponsored a petition opposing China's treatment of pets obtained from the West and never meant to be used as food, said: "To say people are outraged is an understatement."
Some 2.75 million people worldwide have already signed the petition, said Maynard, 55, a radio station secretary in Tauranga, on New Zealand's North Island.
The Chinese should "absolutely" be denied the Olympics because of their poor human-rights record, and for "the fact that they have come to the West and taken animals we have bred solely as pets and domestic companions and used them for food," she said.
"The Olympics is an honour and it's just abhorrent that they're doing this," an angry Maynard said.
Cai Wei, press attache for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, called the allegations a "sheer fabrication."
"It's entirely contrary to sportsmanship to politicize fabrications for propaganda purposes in the Olympic bidding," Wei said.
And Liz White, of the Animal Alliance of Canada, said this country is in no position to criticize China when farm animals here are treated in a similar fashion.
'WE LIKE ST. BERNARDS'
Bob Richardson, chief operating officer of Toronto's bid team for the 2008 Games, said: "We have no comment to make, other than we like St. Bernards."
As a result of concerns about China, the Swiss-based International Organization for the Protection of Animals (IOPA) is lobbying the Swiss government to pass laws preventing "abusive exports" of St. Bernards.
The dogs are a national emblem in Switzerland where they gained fame for their search-and-rescue efforts.
United States Humane Society spokesman Rachel Querry said she has heard of bears being tortured in China for the adrenaline effect, but not dogs.
Return to Animals in Print 8 Apr 2001 Issue
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