Sep 14

“Foes Use Scare Tactics Against the Dog-Meat Bill”

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Sen. Chun-Oakland

The Gathering Place

Vol. 10, Issue 51, Sunday, February 20, 2005


Rep. Alex Sonson

A few months ago, many of your readers saw articles and TV reports about information exposing a thriving dog-meat trade in Hawai’i. Evidence — including audio and video recordings with an individual who buys and sells dog meat — documented conversations about the price of the dog meat; discounts when buying more than one dog at a time; selling meat to private parties and some to restaurants/bars; and the slaughtering itself.

Your newspaper has clearly documented the unfortunate trade in dog meat. Now, Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland has introduced Senate Bill 564, and there is a concurrent House Bill (HB 866) which would make it illegal to traffic in, distribute, and consume dog and cat meat in Hawaii. SB 564 speaks to backyard slaughter, public health and safety, cultural, enforcement and ethical issues. For example, in terms of public health, we have regulations governing how animals are slaughtered, and sanitation laws designed to minimize the potential for contamination, which could sicken those who consume the meat. In unregulated backyard slaughter, there are no such protections, and public safety is jeopardized.

In a Jan. 31, 2005, e-mail to a citizen, Rep. Alex Sonson made a number of confusing and unfortunate statements regarding the proposed legislation.

A victim of the dog-meat trade, Waianae, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Photo by Carroll Cox.

He said that “reports of people eating dog meat in Hawaii are either nonexistent or unsubstantiated rumors,” and suggests that the bill will perpetuate a demeaning stereotype of Filipino and Chinese people.

Perhaps Sonson missed the news reports crediting EnviroWatch, Inc., for the video and audiotape evidence shown on TV and written about in your newspaper?

Moreover, if an ethnic group does not indulge in this practice, then why would legislation be demeaning? He further states that “as it is written now, it would make it a felony to consume an animal.” This is just plain wrong. SB564 proposes a misdemeanor offense.

Perhaps even more troubling are Sonson’s statements about enforcement. He states that it will involve the police “forcing themselves into your dining room to check what animals you have on your plate,” and in his case “may happen at a most embarrassing time.” His e-mail assures the citizen that the police will find “no trace of dog or cat meat” at his home, but the “embarrassment will certainly kill the party.” This is a slap in the face to the law enforcement community, and questions their integrity by suggesting that police will kick down doors, raid parties and otherwise employ gestapo tactics. The police must operate on a higher standard and enter homes legally, and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible.

Finally, Sonson’s statements about this bill and its introducer, Sen. Chun-Oakland, are an irresponsible and unprofessional attack on a fellow legislator and her continued fine work on behalf of the people of Hawai’i. Surely, he owes the senator an apology.

–  Pamela Davis lives in Honolulu