Proposal would ban
eating of dogs, cats

Critics are skeptical that pets
are really being sold as meat

Months after reports surfaced that dogs were allegedly being stolen and slaughtered for meat, state lawmakers are considering a proposal that would make it illegal to eat a dog or cat.

Rep. Glenn Wakai, who introduced the bill, said media reports in August suggested the beginnings of "a cottage industry that we certainly didn't want to become widespread."

"We should make sure that we send a message to these individuals that their practice is not appreciated in our community," said Wakai (D, Moanalua Valley-Salt Lake).

Wakai's bill proposes to make it a Class C felony to kill, distribute or purchase a stray dog or cat for human consumption.

The House Judiciary Committee amended the measure yesterday to say that consumption of any dog or cat would be illegal, regardless of ownership.

"It's not a big-priority issue for the Legislature," said committee Vice Chairman Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa), "but one of our purposes here is for discussion, and if there are people that believe that it's something that needs to be addressed, then it is something we need to look at."

There currently is no law prohibiting people from killing and eating their own dogs or cats, as long as the animal is killed in a humane manner.

Among the lawmakers who expressed reservations to the proposal was Rep. Alex Sonson (D, Pearl City-Waipahu), who said he does not believe that people in Hawaii are eating dogs and cats.

He called the bill harmful to ethnic groups whose cultures accept the practice.

"It promotes the perpetuation of a stereotype that Filipinos and Koreans eat dog," he said. "If there is a problem, I certainly would like to legislate it, but that's not the issue."

Supporters of the bill argued that while eating dogs and cats might be acceptable in other cultures, it is offensive to most Americans.

"The overwhelming majority of Americans do not condone this activity, and indeed find it abhorrent," said Pamela Davis, of Honolulu.

She urged lawmakers "not to play the race card" and instead act to represent the majority who oppose the practice.

Supporters also cited the August media reports as evidence that dogs and cats are being sold in Hawaii as food.

Honolulu police and the Hawaiian Humane Society asked residents to report any suspicious activity after the head of an environmental watchdog group conducted his own hidden-camera investigation.

Carroll Cox, president of EnviroWatch, said he posed as someone interested in buying a dog for meat and was able to purchase a live dog from a Waianae man.

Although the humane society and police have said they received some tips and complaints related to animal consumption, lawmakers said they were not aware of any formal investigation that had been launched.

The bill goes to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber.

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com