COVID-19 has had a paralytic effect on economies worldwide. One example of this is the tourism industry as governments have imposed restrictions on both international and national movement in an attempt to prevent further infections. As such, the tourism industry has suffered devastating losses. With 32.8% of Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP), 9.2% of Vietnam’s GDP and 6% of Indonesia’s GDP being dependent on tourism, these countries are struggling. The danger of losing income and livelihood due to a halt in tourism is not just a possibility, but fast becoming a reality. All of this has come about due to the dangers associated with the trade in live animals, taking place each day in markets throughout Asia.
These are places where a wide range of species of animals of unknown origin, including dogs, cats and wild animals, come into contact. Increased density in confined spaces creates an ideal environment for novel diseases to emerge and spread to animals and humans alike. Despite the health and welfare risks associated with the trade in dog and cat meat, and the real danger of a future pandemic it can unleash, government efforts to end this practice are still less than optimal. What’s more, our investigations found that much of the dog and cat meat trade (DCMT) has actually survived during the COVID-19 period, having found ways to diversify and circumvent social restrictions, such as offering a home delivery service.
Stolen. Killed. Eaten.
The dog and cat meat trade benefits only a small portion of the population, with regular consumers amassing 12% in Cambodia, 6% in Vietnam and 7% in Indonesia, although every year millions of animals are taken, often stolen, from owners. This leads owners on a desperate search for their pets, illustrated by the heartbreaking posters with missing animals all over these countries. There is already a significant local opposition to the trade within Vietnam and Cambodia attested by over 160,000 signatures from these two countries on a FOUR PAWS global petition to end the dog and cat meat trade. Many more signatures are expected to come, but we need your help. We need your help to let the Governments of Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia know that you want the trade to end, to protect not only dogs and cats , but also your families from the threat of another pandemic and its devasting consequences.
Posters of missing cats outside a dog and cat meat market in Vietnam
We continue to fight the dog and cat meat trade during COVID-19. We have set up feeding programs to help animals that have been impacted by COVID-19 and to protect them from the trade. Together with our partners we have sent open letters to the Cambodian, Vietnamese and Indonesian governments warning them that the dog and cat meat trade could potentially be the source of the next global pandemic and calling on them to end the trade and to protect millions of animals and people alike. We have and will continue to engage with the tourism industry to withdraw from offers involving dog and cat meat trade. Several companies have already indicated their concerns about the DCMT and its potential risks to tourism and the global economy. Five major tourism operators have already signed a pledge with us to help influence and put an end to this horrific trade. Join us in the fight to end the dog and cat meat trade!
Alex MuntenauFormer member of the Science Unit at FOUR PAWS
Alex is a Romanian veterinarian that studied animal cognition in Vienna, Austria.