Three Oregon members of Congress are part of a group asking U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge key allies to halt the consumption of cats and dogs as he travels through the Middle East and Asia this week.
U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Peter Defazio (all D-Ore.) along with 32 other members of Congress, signed a June 19 letter to Pompeo that states "no matter where you live, animal cruelty and the dog and cat meat trade are simply unacceptable."
The Humane Society International says that 30 million dogs and 10 million cats are killed for their meat each year in Asia. The letter focuses on China, South Korea and Vietnam, and asks that Pompeo push for the cancellation of this year's Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, Guangxi China, which started last Friday, June 21, and is scheduled to end June 30.
Since its beginning in 2009, the festival has received global backlash from activists and celebrities including Dame Judi Dench, Simon Cowell and Lisa Vanderpump, of "Desperate Housewives" fame. The festival is a solely commercial enterprise for dog meat traders, the Humane Society International says, with no legitimate ties to local culture or tradition in the area.
The human consumption of animals treated as pets in the U.S. has riled numerous activists here.
"The issue is not the fact that you're eating dog meat, because that's part of the culture, it's the torture and celebration of it," says former Multnomah County Commissioner Lorreta Smith, who is working to spread awareness before the Yulin festival ends this Sunday. "These dogs are skinned and boiled and burned alive."
The congressional letter cites recent U.S. animal protection legislation, including the 2018 Farm Bill, which banned dog and cat meat in the U.S., as precedent for their request of Pompeo. A year prior, in 2017, Taiwan became the first Asian country to ban dog and cat meat, with a revision of its Animal Protection Act. South Korea, which faced increased global criticism during the 2018 Winter Olympics, has also introduced bills to ban the practice.
Smith said that Secretary Pompeo has not yet responded to the letter but she hopes he will act soon.