Wed Apr 2, 9:41 AM ET
Somewhere between two and four million dogs are estimated to be consumed in South Korea every year but the slaughtering and processing is carried out in dirty environments and poses a risks to diners' health, they said.
Since dogs are not currently classed as livestock there are no hygiene regulations on their slaughter, officials said.
"Dogs are consumed in their millions in this country every year. That's a fact. We have to take care of this situation," said Lee Hae-Woo, head of the city government's department of food safety.
"We plan to recommend to the central government that dogs are classified as livestock," he told AFP. "This is like a hot potato but we don't pretend the issue does not exist."
South Korea's capital has always been ambivalent about dogmeat. To avoid adverse publicity before the 1988 Olympics, the city banned dogmeat and snakemeat as "abhorrent food."
The order is now largely ignored and an estimated 500 dogmeat restaurants operate in Seoul alone.
The reclassification proposal sparked angry reactions from animal activists, who staged street protests and launched on-line signature campaigns.
"No other country in the world but South Korea gives a legal green light to dogmeat consumption," the Korea Association for Animal Protection said in a statement.
"South Korea's motto is globalisation but it seeks to go back to the Stone Age as far as dogmeat consumption is concerned."
Lee Won-Bok, association president, said if the proposal became reality, dogmeat consumption would increase drastically.
"It's horrible to imagine dogmeat on display next to beef and ham at supermarkets. It would also be nauseating to see roasted dogmeat on the menu of your restaurant," he said.
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