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Pets Are Not Food in U.S., SPCA Will Advise Immigrants

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is putting together an educational campaign to teach immigrants that American culture “does not tolerate the consumption of dogs and other domestic pets as food,” according to Edward C. Cubrda, the group’s executive director.

In the wake of a controversial court case this month involving two Cambodian refugees who ate a German shepherd puppy, Cubrda said his organization will try in particular to reach immigrants from countries such as Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, where dogs are reputedly considered delicacies.

Cubrda said he does not know precisely what form the campaign will take, but John Larkhart, who handles public relations for the organization, said the SPCA is “networking with members of the Asian community groups to help us.” The group may, for example, “pull together recipes, with meat substitutes and other things that can be used, not pet-type meats from dogs and cats,” he said.

Not Accepted Custom

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Eating dogs or pet animals is an exception, not accepted custom, and not one transferred when people move to America, some Asians here said.

In South Korea, however, where reporters covering the Olympics last year commented on the availability of dog meat, Los Angeles psychologist Soo Chang, director of Asian Pacific Services of the YWCA, said dog is considered “a gourmet food. People use it especially in the summertime, saying it gives them extra energy.” Men believe that it increases their virility, she added.

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” said a Chinatown professional, who asked that his name not be used. “When I first came here my uncle took me for prime rib and it was very rare,” he noted. “In terms of cultural subtleties, I thought eating barely cooked meat was barbaric.”

Due to the recent case of the Cambodian refugees and the puppy, members of the Cambodian community are sensitive about the issue. Nil Hul, executive director of the Cambodian Assn. of America, maintained that “nobody does it.” But he added: “We started an educational campaign the first day the case was in the newspapers, with flyers and radio broadcasts in Cambodian. We told the community you (have) got to abide not only the law, but the norms of society.”

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Changes in state law are also needed, SPCA’s Cubrda said, because according to the state Penal Code, “There’s nothing to prohibit you from killing your pet in order to eat it, as long as it’s done humanely.”

The Cambodian case was dismissed in Long Beach Municipal Court. Judge Bradford L. Andrews found there was not enough evidence to show that the puppy had been killed inhumanely.


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