US moves to ban consumption of dogs and cats

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Making a meal out of a dog or a cat may soon land you in jail in the US.

An amendment added on Wednesday (April 18) to a farm Bill that was approved by the House Agriculture Committee would bar people from "knowingly slaughtering a dog or cat for human consumption", as well as transporting or participating in other commercial activity related to eating pet meat.

Dog and cat slaughter is extremely rare in the US and already prohibited in commercial slaughterhouses.

But consumption of animals commonly considered as pets and companions in American culture still takes place among some immigrant groups.

Only a handful of states, including New York, New Jersey and California, ban such small-scale butchering.

Violators would be subject to up to a year of imprisonment, a fine, or both. The proposal would be part of a reauthorisation of Agriculture Department programmes.

Organisations including the Humane Society of the United States have been crusading against dog-and-cat slaughter worldwide, with acting President Kitty Block calling the farm Bill an "ideal vehicle" for advancing the ban.

The amendment by Republican Representative Jeff Denham of California is similar to a Bill introduced by Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida that has 239 co-sponsors.

The US$867 billion (S$1.13 trillion) farm Bill approved by the House Agriculture panel would reauthorise all US Department of Agriculture programmes, including farm subsidies and food stamps.

A new law is due by Sept 30, when existing programmes begin to expire.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has yet to consider a proposal.