St.Bernard Doggies in Chinese Cuisine

*Because **NYC** Could Be BETTER!! rosaphilia at webtv.net
Thu Mar 29 09:00:03 EST 2001


St. Bernard Meat Sells for a Dollar a Pound in China

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China's love for St Bernard meat has Swiss howling
By Paul Eckert

BEIJING, March 28 (Reuters) - The Chinese have taken a liking to a
revered symbol of Switzerland -- the St Bernard dog -- but the Swiss are
not flattered.
Gentle giants famed for rescuing people in the Alpine snows of Europe,
the St Bernard's size and docile nature have become a major selling
point in China, where dog meat has long been a popular delicacy known as
"fragrant meat."

Driven by increasing demand to boost meat yields, dog breeders have been
drawn to Saint Bernards because they are huge, resistant to disease and
prolific, with annual litters of around eight to twelve puppies, double
that of other dogs.

In a promotional video, a state-run Saint Bernard breeding farm in the
northeastern city of Shenyang praises the big dogs as as perfect for
breeding because they are gentle and don't bite

The video boasts that investing in Saint Bernard farms is "more
lucrative than pig farming and livestock breeding" and says that 48
breeding stations have been built in 10 Chinese provinces with a total
of 5,000 Saint Bernards.

The farm cross-breeds St Bernards imported from Switzerland with local
dogs. The dogs are then sold to brokers at a cost of about $1.00 for 500
grams (18 ounces), it said.

The idea of a national symbol becoming Chinese canine cuisine has
sparked strong protests from the Swiss public and from animal rights
activists.

This year, a petition signed by 11,000 St Bernard breeders and owners
worldwide demanding a halt to the trade was submitted to the Swiss
government by SOS St Bernard International, a Geneva-based group.

The Swiss embassy in Beijing has declined to comment on the issue.

ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS FUME

Animal welfare organisations, like the International Fund for Animal
Welfare (IFAW), are outraged that Saint Bernards are being bred for
their meat and have petitioned the Chinese government to introduce its
first animal cruelty laws.

"If a Chinese cannot understand why Swiss people get so upset that they
are eating St. Bernards, I would ask that same question: If Swiss people
eat China's panda, how would Chinese feel?" Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW China
director, told Reuters Television.

But that sentiment has not kept diners away from the Sino-Korean
"Dog-Meat King" restaurant, one of Beijing's largest dog restaurants.

>From braised dog paws to stir-fried dog chops to boiled tail, the
restaurant in central Beijing serves more than 50 dog dishes prepared in
a variety of rich sauces and styles.

"Chinese people who own dogs would never eat their own dogs, they really
love them and treat them like their own children," said customer Zhang
Lei.
"But these dogs we're eating are bred specially for their meat --
they're like chickens, sheep and cows, so people don't feel bad about
eating them," the 25-year-old worker said.

In the kitchen, chefs fish out freshly slaughtered chunks of dog head,
tenderloin and leg out of a large pot in preparation for the evening
rush, but decline to disclose the breed of dog.

A spokeswoman for the Shenyang farm said pure St. Bernards are almost
exclusively for breeding stock and rarely make it to the table.

"They're too expensive," she said.

04:48 03-28-01




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