A Mr Taufa of Mangere adopted his cousin's “pitbull-cross” because it was "too skinny". But Mr Taufa's wife found the dog noisy and messy, so hubby killed the dog and proceeded to start barbecuing it. The Taufa family invited friends around for a meal, and roasted their dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier named Ripper. This was defended by Lupi Taufa who said it was common in Tonga to eat dogs! Horse, dog – it is “good for you”.
It is currently not illegal to kill a dog for consumption provided it is done in a humane way and the dog does not suffer. This assessment came after a man killed his dog and cooked it on a barbeque! He faced no penalties because it was killed "humanely"!
Euroasia director Kenneth Leong, whose company specialises in cultural consultancy, said the uproar was a demonstration of cultural insensitivity bordering on ignorance and hypocrisy. However, there is a lot of hypocrisy imposed on us due to government and public sanctions. We raise and kill sheep, don't we? We slaughter and eat cattle? So why would dogs be any different?
The existence of abattoirs, hunting, lives exports, factory farms, puppy farms etc is the battle ground for animal rights activists. Cattle, sheep, chickens, dogs, horses, turkeys, kangaroos, dogs, pigs, whales and dolphins – where do we draw the line to what is “acceptable” to eat, and what is not? Each culture has its own definition. Cannibalism was culturally acceptable in some cultures!
We actually have no inbuilt right to raise, kill and devour animals, because their right to life trumps our right to eat what we want. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, prohibited the eating of meat, but due to the Flood and the consequential lack of food, permission was given to eat some species. However, this was not a general licence to enslave, breed monocultures of herds, kill and eat the whole range of living creatures to satisfy our taste buds!
Professor of Pacific at Auckland's Massey University, Sitaleki Finau, says in Tongan culture dogs are not viewed as companions, but as another source of meat, and the boundaries do not cross.
Every living mammal could easily be down-graded as a source of meat, and their killings justified for a meal! Customs and traditions cannot, and do not, over-ride barbarity, cruelty and betrayal. Staffordshires make devoted pets and bond strongly to their owners. An "emotional" response, over the desire for flesh, is something that makes us moral beings capable of making ethical decisions. Pets are animals we let get closest to us, and the ones we form the loving relationships with. They become family members.
There is no need for meat in our diets. As Primates, our diets should be mainly based on plants. It is purely about customs and conditioning. An animal's intrinsic value stands whole and does not depend on how they are "viewed" by us humans - as companions or for meat! Aren't animal rights universal?