A bill has been passed in South Korea prohibiting the manufacturing and trade of dog meat.

Animal welfare campaigners celebrate decision as a ‘historic victory’ following years of pressure both domestically and internationally.

The parliament of South Korea has passed a vote to prohibit the production and trade of dog meat, a decision acclaimed by campaigners as a significant win for animal welfare.

The national assembly of the country voted overwhelmingly in favor of banning the breeding, butchering, distribution, and sale of dogs for their meat on Tuesday, after facing years of pressure at home and abroad.

Although the law does not outlaw consumption, these measures will effectively bring an end to the consumption of these animals, a practice which some argue has existed for centuries.

The ban, which garnered 208 supportive votes and two abstentions, will be enforced starting 2027, following a three-year grace period. Violators will be subject to a maximum prison sentence of three years or a fine of up to 30 million won (£17,900). The legislation also includes compensation packages to assist businesses in exiting the industry, according to media reports.

Consuming dog meat, often served in stews to enhance tenderness, was previously viewed as a method to combat fatigue during hot summers. However, consumption has significantly declined in recent decades, particularly among younger generations in South Korea, who consider dogs as part of their families.

In a survey conducted by the Seoul-based thinktank Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education, over 94% of respondents stated that they had not consumed dog meat in the past year, while 93% expressed that they would not consume it in the future.

Despite the substantial decrease in consumption, approximately 1,150 farms continue to breed dogs for meat, and around 1,600 restaurants in South Korea continue to sell dog meat dishes, according to the agriculture ministry.

Animal rights campaigners have long condemned the industry for its cruelty, with dogs being electrocuted or hanged during the slaughtering process. Traders, who previously threatened to release 2 million dogs near the presidential office in Seoul to protest against the anticipated ban, claim to have made the slaughter process more humane.

“This is an unprecedented moment,” said JungAh Chae, the executive director of Humane Society International/Korea. “I never imagined that I would witness the end of the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea during my lifetime, but this historic victory for animals demonstrates the determination and passion of our animal protection movement.

“We have reached a turning point where the majority of Korean citizens refuse to consume dog meat and desire to relegate this suffering to the annals of history. Today, our policymakers have taken decisive action to transform this desire into reality. While my heart aches for the millions of dogs for whom this change has come too late, I am elated that South Korea can now close this sorrowful chapter and embrace a future that is friendly to dogs.”

The movement to criminalize the sale of dog meat has gained momentum under President Yoon Suk-yeol, an animal lover who, along with his wife, Kim Keon-hee, has adopted multiple dogs and cats and openly criticized the industry.

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