S. Korea To Slaughter Dogs & Cats Over Bird Flu Concerns
According to an article in the Malaysian Star, South Korea plans to kill cats and dogs to try to prevent the spread of bird flu after an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus at a chicken farm last week, officials said Monday.
Animal health experts, however, suggested it was “a bit of an extreme measure” when there was no scientific evidence to suggest that cats or dogs could pass the virus to humans.
However, it would not be the first time for South Korea to kill cats and dogs due bird flu concerns. An official at the Agriculture Ministry said South Korea slaughtered cats and dogs along with 5.3 million birds during the last outbreak of bird flu in 2003.
The official declined to be named, saying he was not authorized to talk to media.
Dogs specially bred for eating are slaughtered for consumption in South Korea, where many people enjoy dog meat as a delicacy.
Another ministry official, Kim Chang-sup, insisted killing cats and dogs to curtail the spread of bird flu was not unusual.
“Other countries do it. They just don’t talk about it,” Kim said, adding that all mammals are potentially subject to the virus. He declined further comment.
But animal experts disputed the validity of killing cats and dogs.
“It’s highly unusual, and it’s not a science-based decision,” said Peter Roeder, a Rome-based animal health expert with the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization or FAO, who published research about cats and bird flu earlier this year in the journal Nature. “We’ve got absolutely no reason to believe they’re important,” he told The Associated Press.