You thought your darling cats and dogs were safe from hungry, greedy meat-loving maniacs? Think again! Laws governing the consumption of dog and cat meat – and the killing of pets for consumption – vary state to state in the U.S.. According to Dogster, “Federal food safety law makes it illegal for slaughterhouses to process dogs and cats. That takes care of where the vast majority of Americans get their meat. It does not, however, cover home meat-slaughtering operations.”

Really? So torturing a dog or cat is animal cruelty, but in some states killing and eating your pets is a-ok? You’ve got to be kidding me!

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Thankfully, lawmakers in the state of Pennsylvania are pushing for a bill (passed in the House unanimously) to close this loophole and make it illegal to breed, process, slaughter, or sell dogs or cats for human consumption.

According to Philly.com “Only about a half-dozen states, among them New Jersey and New York, have laws specifically barring the butchering of dogs and cats. ‘Most of the general public assumes this is already illegal,’ said Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for the Humane Society of the United States … Parascandola said he had only heard of sporadic cases in the United States of dogs or cats being used for meat, and under standard laws the killing is legal if not done in a cruel manner.”

Slate.com recently covered the issue in their article, “Is it legal to eat your cat?” Here’s a summary of some state laws on killing and eating your cat or dog, via Slate:

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  • The state of New York expressly prohibits “any person to slaughter or butcher domesticated dog (canis familiaris) or domesticated cat (felis catus or domesticus) to create food, meat or meat products for human or animal consumption.” The law also doesn’t cover ferrets, gerbils, parakeets, or other less familiar pet species.
  • California’s anti-pet-eating law has a broader reach. It bars possession of the carcass, so having bought your cat steaks from someone else wouldn’t be a useful alibi. The California law also protects “any animal traditionally or commonly kept as a pet or companion,” rather than just Fido and Fluffy…Horses are specifically covered by a different section of the code. There’s no precedent on iguanas, goldfish, or boa constrictors.
  • Virginia, bars the unnecessary killing of an animal, with a specific exemption for “farming activities.” In those places, it’s very likely that killing a cat for dinner would get you in trouble, because the killing wouldn’t be necessary, and cats aren’t commonly associated with farming.

As surprising as this revelation may be, it once again brings to light the confusion of why we choose some animals as companions, and some as our food. Some people keep pigs as pets, while others see them only as food. Why have we created such a distinction? We applaud the Pennsylvania legislature for protecting our pets from becoming dinner, and perhaps one day, we can applaud the moment when other animals are afforded the same respect.

Is some consistency in the way we deal with animals too much to ask for, people?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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