Update: A complete investigation of the dog meat industry was launched on December 27, 2021, and will continue for the next two months.
After President Moon Jae-in said in September that “the time has come to consider a ban on eating dogs,” the government is conducting a complete investigation of related dog farms and restaurants, etc.
As the investigation will be conducted by public officials visiting the sites, an intense backlash is expected from breeding farms, which are extremely reluctant to expose to outsiders.
According to the foodservice industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs sent an official letter titled ‘Request for cooperation in the investigation of the general status of dog breeding and dog meat distribution for food purposes’ to the dog breeding farms, slaughterhouses, merchants/restaurants, and related associations.
The official document stated that beginning December 27, related ministries would jointly conduct a fact-finding survey of dog meat farms and businesses to uncover information about the ownership (management) and breeding scale, etc., of those farms and businesses.
As the issue of dog eating spread into a social conflict, the government launched a committee to discuss the end of dog meat on December 9. At its first meeting, the committee announced its plan to investigate the actual condition(status) of breeding and distributing dogs for meat.
The fact-finding survey, to begin on December 27, would be conducted jointly by the relevant ministries to cover the entire process of dog meat consumption. The subjects of investigation are breeding farms (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Environment), slaughterhouses (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Food and Drug Safety), and merchants and restaurants (Ministry of Food and Drug Safety).
Unlike the cattle and pig industries, where information about the entire process from breeding to sales has been informatizationized, the dog meat industry has been operating outside the law and regarded as a ‘management blind spot.’ This survey will reveal detailed information about market size and the distribution process.
A government official has stated that “To discuss the ban on dog meat consumption, we need information about the dog meat industry, but we had no way to conduct this investigation until now. Please know that his survey is being conducted to understand the actual market situation only.”
However, as local government officials will be conducting this investigation by visiting the sites, considerable opposition is expected.
In particular, dog meat farms are extremely reluctant to expose to the outside world, more so as animal protection groups are increasingly encroaching on the properties to rescue abused animals or filing complaints against these dog farms.
Also, the dog farmers are especially concerned that illegal acts may be discovered through this investigation.
As it is expected that in-person investigation may be difficult(as owners may attempt to evade meeting with officials or showing their facilities), a government official stated, “The purpose of this survey is statistical fact-finding, and it has been recommended that local governments refrain from taking administrative measures for legal violations in the course of the investigation, other than imposing fines for refusal of access to the property.”
The information obtained through this fact-finding survey will not be used for purposes other than the investigation, and results will not be provided to third parties except as stipulated by law.
A government official said, “Although considerable opposition is expected, the principle is that we will investigate all relevant farms and businesses without exception…. We ask for your active cooperation as the investigation results are necessary to develop support measures in case of damage in the process of implementing the new policy”.