Sep 13

“We Should Better Protect Hawaii’s Sentient Animals”


Vol. 126 / No. 333  —  Tuesday, January 1, 2008

This is in regard to the Dec. 29 letter to the editor from Dan Chainey, proposing to use “unwanted animals” for food.  Recently, pet pigs and dogs have been killed and eaten, and Chainey thinks the Hawaiian Humane Society should take this opportunity to make money and “stop putting down perfectly good food.”  Perhaps Idaho resident Chainey is unaware that in 2005, a group of citizens supported legislation to make it illegal to traffic in, distribute and consume dog and cat meat in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, a bill supported by thousands was defeated by a handful of lawmakers.   I hold Rep. Calvin Say accountable for killing the bill on March 4, 2005, by not giving it a hearing in the House, thereby not allowing it to cross over to the Senate, and Sen. Colleen Hanabusa for refusing to schedule the bill for a Senate hearing. Say said the “Filipino caucus” opposed it, Hanabusa said there are more important issues to deal with, and the bill was successfully blocked.

Senator Colleen Hanabusa, Killed the Dog-Meat Bill

Representative Calvin Say, Killed the Dog-Meat Bill

During hearings on the dog and cat meat bills, the Hawaiian Humane Society said it’s “perfectly legal” to kill dogs, cats and other animals in your backyard, as long as it’s a “quick and painless” death.  But the HHS, U.S. Department of Agriculture or Food and Drug Administration are not present in each back yard to oversee the killing, to ensure it’s quick and painless, or even that sanitary conditions are present. Backyard slaughter raises public health and safety, cultural, enforcement and ethical issues.

Chainey takes the pragmatic view that since cats and dogs “are in their last days on death row” at HHS anyway, why not kill them for meat and give it to a “needy family” that might prefer cat or dog to other “expensive meats.”  That sounds racist and elitist to me. Our government has the responsibility to feed and care for the homeless and the needy in our state, and feeding them our pets, which are “food” that ordinary citizens won’t eat, is a bad idea.

The dog who was recently killed and eaten was stolen from his guardians, not sitting on death row at the HHS. But the HHS should have instituted a “no kill” shelter years ago, and they should have stopped serving meat at their official functions, following the lead and recommendation of the Humane Society of the United States.   It makes no sense to eat the animals (including pigs, chickens, ducks and cows) that you are charged with protecting.   Moreover, those “food animals” do not have a quick and painless death.  They suffer, and die violent and painful deaths. We eat pigs and lambs, but not dogs and cats. Why? Pigs are actually more intelligent than dogs, but they are designated “food animals” and dogs have been lucky enough to be designated “pets.

Chainey appears troubled that so many letters “poured in” about the killing and eating of Caddy the dog.   To me it’s a ray of hope, of encouragement.   I know with certainty that the overwhelming majority of our citizens abhor cruelty to animals, and want legislation enacted to outlaw the killing and eating of dogs and cats.  That’s the hard part, getting elected officials to act on the will of the people.

In fact, earlier this year Rep. Henry Sonson was quoted as saying, “They’re our pets. They’re our companions. … If we’re going to elevate animals, we’re lowering human beings.”  This speciesist thinking has led the world into the sorry state it’s in today.   Please recognize the inherent worth of all beings, and their right to life.


Link to this article as it appears in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin