09/12/2013 03:47 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2013

Tackling the Commercial Dog Meat Trade

In much of the world, dogs are seen as protectors, helpers and companions. But in parts of Southeast Asia, dogs are a delicacy dish and suffer greatly as a result of the international dog meat trade. Culture and tradition at one time played a role in the consumption of these animals, but today it has little to do with it. The dog meat trade is a profit-driven, commercialized industry, with cruelty and public health concerns at its core.

To combat this industry, Humane Society International, the global arm of The Humane Society of the United States, Change for Animals Foundation, Animals Asia and Soi Dog Foundation joined together and formed a coalition called the Asia Canine Protection Alliance. The coalition's goal is to end the commercial and often illegal trade in dogs for meat, where millions of dogs, many stolen pets, fall victim to every year.

In Hanoi last month, the coalition hosted officials from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It was agreed at the time that the governments would consider a five-year moratorium on the commercial transport of dogs for meat from one country to another in an effort to stem the spread of rabies. Hundreds of thousands of dogs transported in unimaginable conditions without health documentation are being trucked, often illegally across these countries' borders.

Kelly O'Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Human Society International, who presented at the Hanoi meeting noted: "Rabies and other communicable diseases, such as cholera and trichinellosis, represent a major public health threat throughout Asia. An end to the trade will help human health and help save the lives of countless dogs who suffer in the trade. Evidence makes clear the inherent cruelty in all stages of the trade -- from sourcing and transport, to sale and eventual slaughter."

Many countries in Southeast Asia are now focused on this industry and taking measures to address rabies and other communicable diseases associated with it in their respective countries. Humane Society International is encouraged by the governments' interest and willingness to work with the coalition to confront the international commercial trade in dog meat and where illegal -- seek its end.