June 19 through 25 is Animal Rights Awareness Week this year, and one major animal rights issue which has gained publicity in the past few years is pets in the meat trade. Animal rights can mean many things to different people, and humans are (traditionally) omnivores who do eat meat. Many of us are more and more concerned with how that meat is raised, however – recognizing that part of the human diet is designed to include animal protein, we want to obtain that nutrition without causing suffering to the animals. Groups are working with farmers and companies to encourage more humane practices, such as free range chickens who are no longer kept in tiny pens, and allowing cows a more natural diet without hormones and chemicals to make them unnaturally large.
Cultures all over the world have different cuisines and consider different animals to be edible. In America, we raise livestock animals for food, such as chickens, cows, and pigs. Some people hunt wild game for food, like ducks, deer and boar. But we have a bright line dividing pets from food here – we do not eat cats or dogs, or reptiles and rodents. This is not the case elsewhere, and recently attention has been focused on eastern Asia, where dogs are, if not a common source, at least an accepted source of meat. American activists have targeted China and Thailand especially, and there are many groups which deal specifically with the fate of these dogs in the meat trade.
This is surely an animal rights issue – it is not so much the cultural difference of what meat sources are acceptable as it is the treatment of these clearly intelligent, empathetic and emotional animals. Similar outrage has met the practice of eating monkeys or dolphins and whales. The good news is that dogs are easy to rescue – they can be rehabilitated from the disease they often suffer due to a caged life, and they can be placed in homes here in America for a whole new life.
Rural Dog Rescue has recently been part of this effort – we took in several dogs who were rescued from Thailand, where they were destined to be locked in cages until they were killed for meat. Several of the dogs have already found loving homes, but you can check here http://www.ruraldogrescue.com/adoptable-animals/ for dogs just emerging from rehabilitation and awaiting a forever home!