Racism and Speciesism in Animal Advocacy: How the anti-dog meat trade campaigns are spreading virulent racism

Substitute “China” for “Vietnam” in this meme and you’ll understand what we face as a rescue working for ALL species.

I have often attributed my hatred of social media and contact with the public to my advancing age. It feels that with each passing year in this work I get closer and closer to being permanently out of f***’s for the insanity I read online. However, I feel I have finally worked out the culprit. It’s the daily contact through our media with racists and speciesists with their heads so far lodged up their own rectums that they can’t begin to acknowledge that a affluent white dude stuffing a pig corpse in his face in Manhattan, USA is in no way different from a poor Vietnamese man chowing down on a dog in his soup in Quang Tri, Vietnam.

Let’s play with this scenario:
What is the difference between a chicken electrocuted underwater before having its throat slit in a slaughterhouse that had a government veterinarian stamp her death warrant in Australia and a dog being beaten before their throat is slit behind a dirty market in Indonesia? Most often, people will say that the way that they are killed matters. Somehow beating a dog is worse than being drowned in electrified water and getting a blade across your throat… Others will say that because dogs are loyal to people, killing dogs is more wrong than killing chickens. Neither explanation holds much water.

Let’s break this down.

To start with, if you need loyalty from someone in order to consider their lives valuable enough for you to avoid harming them, you are extremely self-centered. See a therapist and work out your mommy issues and narcissism. I have no doubt your spouse will thank me. Do you think that shy dogs, feral dogs, or mean dogs are less worthy of life? By your rubric, they have no value because they cannot have that “ideal” relationship that benefits a human. It also insinuates that ANY animal that you can’t/won’t have a personal relationship with has no moral value and thus is not worthy of your protection. By extension, a domesticated chicken, a species numbering over 50 billion worldwide as the most populous avian species, is an animal you assume has no value if you are not vegan. You see them as food no different from a packet of crisps or box of cookies because to you they lack the ability to have any relationship with a human, though anyone who rescues chickens could easily dispel that nonsense. Out of 8.7 million species on this planet, your one species has granted itself some magical power to decide that a dog has more value than a chicken, a dolphin more value than a sardine, and an elephant more value than a cow. Enlighten me on why you think our murdering, raping, war mongering, environment destroying species should have this power. Go ahead. I’m listening. (Not true. I am not listening. You are just an asshole if you really follow this logic).

Another difference between the chicken and dog in the above scenario is location. People assume that a country which legislates against animal cruelty in some manner will be giving farmed animals a good death and that makes it ok to kill them. I mean, people have to eat, right? Never mind the 80,000 edible plants… Of course, they would never apply that same logic to killing dogs for food in Australia. The man killing the dog in Indonesia, India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, or Thailand more than likely speaks no English, we assume has little education, and for the vast majority of nonvegans so vocally against the dog meat trade, that man is not their race. This is exactly why every single post about the dog meat trade has a multitude of racist comments below it talking about how vicious and violent the Chinese are, how savage the Vietnamese are, or how barbaric Koreans are- all because some people there eat just another species that Western countries have decided in their imminent “wisdom” and “enlightenment” is off limits. This is overtly racist if you have not yet caught on.

What makes it so hard to manage media and interacting with the general public through the organization is that I am a white American woman living in Vietnam (stuck in the US at the moment). I have obviously rescued a lot of dogs and people who contact us or post things on our page more than often think I, too, think [insert miscellaneous Asian group] are savages for eating dogs and will happily go along with their racist rants. It’s like being in Alabama and people around me use the “n” word thinking I must have grown up with their brand of unapologetic and deeply ignorant racism and will not lose my shit on them. Yes, I get angry in these messages. I get very abusive even at times. Admittedly, my public relations skills occasionally need some polishing, but for racism I simply let go on these people. I won’t say I have a soft word to share with anyone, particularly nonvegans, who point their finger across oceans they likely have never crossed at people they know nothing about and claim they have some moral superiority over them because “we have laws about killing animals”, or “we only eat livestock”. For this I have no apologies forthcoming. You want to see some rage? Go ahead and talk shit about the Vietnamese and sit your ass down for a verbal ass whooping.

Killing is wrong.

Killing dogs is wrong. Killing women is wrong. Killing lions is wrong. Killing chickens is wrong. Killing fish is wrong.

Killing dogs in Germany is wrong. Killing chickens in Vietnam is wrong. Killing bears in Russia is wrong. Killing sheep in Scotland is wrong. Killing whales in Norway is wrong.

Are we getting it now?

Moral consistency is something animal lovers seem to lack around the world, not just in the English speaking population. Rescuers are no different. Animal advocacy organizations and their supporters in addition to the global veterinary industry are often the root of this hypocrisy. It is our goal that in the process of inadvertently pissing off a few people by being honest about this, we can at least plant a seed so that one day there will be more organizations and more animal lovers who understand that loving animals means living vegan. More than that, we need people to know that animal abuse is prevalent anywhere in the world where people use animals for food, clothing, research, and entertainment and the color of your skin, your gender, your nationality, or your religion play no part in your predilection towards harming other sentient beings for your own selfishness.

We do have the ability to change this. Maybe not us as an organization and certainly not me as the director, but collectively in the field of animal advocacy of any kind we can open our eyes and make changes that benefit the animals for once and do so with some understanding that racism is not ever going to get us anywhere.