Authorities in Hong Kong have raided a shop suspected of selling dog and cat meat as food – more than 70 years after the trade was outlawed.
Officers seized “suspected samples of dog or cat flesh” at a shop in the Yau Ma Tei district during a “joint blitz operation” by the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on Thursday evening.
The AFCD said it had carried out the raid after receiving reports that the meats were on sale in Yau Ma Tei – a densely populated commercial and residential district in the Kowloon area – and that it had arranged testing of the seized samples.
It said it was also investigating whether the shop was trading fresh meat without a license.
“Prosecution will be instituted should it be proven,” the AFCD said in a statement.
Eating dog and cat meat has been prohibited in Hong Kong since 1950 under the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s laws, and the news has prompted both lawmakers and animal welfare advocates to call for greater enforcement efforts.
Lawmaker Gary Chan in a Facebook post described the sale of cat and dog meat as “unacceptable.”
“Hong Kong has outlawed the eating of cat and dog meat for over 70 years,” the legislator said. “The incident highlights that the frequency of spot checks by law enforcement agencies has not been enough.”
The raid by the government agencies followed local media reports alleging the meats could be found on sale frozen for about $12 a catty (a local unit equivalent to about 1.3 pounds) – similar to the price of cooked beef.
Local rights group Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said on Friday it “strongly condemns” the selling of dog and cat meat for food.
It urged the public to immediately contact the police and other relevant authorities if they suspect it is on sale.
Hong Kong’s Dogs and Cats Regulations stipulates that “no person shall slaughter any dog or cat for use as food whether for mankind or otherwise, and no person shall sell or use or permit the sale or use of the flesh of dogs and cats for food.”
Offenders are liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $640 and six months’ imprisonment.
An estimated 30 million dogs and 10 million cats globally are slaughtered each year for human consumption, according to Humane Society International. Consumption of the animals in parts of Asia are fueled by illegal trade and slaughter.