“We normally have stray dogs and one wonders if the Chinese restaurants, those which have sprung up all over the place have been serving dog meat and something else,” Khan told Newsday yesterday.
“So I think the time is right because if one becomes a vegetarian they will not end up in that position. They will lose weight. This is something we have a look at very very seriously.” Khan pointed to the number of stray dogs in this country that have disappeared, and are not seen in the dog pound. “So they have to be going somewhere,” said the Health Minister. Khan said he was very worried about what was being said about a restaurant in Diego Martin and although he felt horrified by the video, he was not surprised.
He said some of the Chinese nationals might have brought some of their culture to Trinidad and Tobago, but indicated that there is little that can be done to stop it.
“The Food and Drug Act addresses the importation of food items, but it does not cover issue like this,” Khan said. “When you mix food with MSG - vetsin that is - it softens the meat. The taste will change as well as the meat consistency, and it will look like beef, pork, or something.
So one has to be extremely careful what they are eating.” Khan went on to say, “I have been very particular because I know in China, rats, dogs and cats and other things: the Chinese public is coming down on quite a few of those people who are doing it. When I was told about the video...I was a bit worried about what is being sold.” He noted that there are no laws to protect animals at that level.
However he noted the video brought into the forefront that there have been a total wipe out of stray dogs in Trinidad and Tobago, adding, “we never had that before.” He suggested having public health inspectors going out and checking these meats.
“Now that the video has come out, people may go underground for a while, and it has to be a constant assessment,” Khan said.
Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA) is on the look out for the couple of Chinese looking men who were seen in a video on social media skinning the dog dangling from a rope.
President of the organisation, Sita Kuruvilla, revealed they are attempting to get more information about the incident depicted in the video.
“We do have some information,” Kuruvilla told Newsday yesterday.
“We are trying to verify where this incident actually occurred, and who were the people involved.” She added that when they had verification, the organisation will be going to the site to speak to whoever is in charge, basically to advise them that this is not an acceptable practice in Trinidad and Tobago, and to make sure that they stop completely.
Some reports indicate the incident occurred on the compound of a restaurant but Newsday understands the video was taken by a security guard who works on the construction site of the new Carenage Health Centre located at the corner of Constabulary Street and Western Main Road, Carenage.
Serious health concerns and questions were raised by listeners to various radio stations yesterday who called in to speak about the issue as the video went viral.
An official of the Chinese Embassy in Port-of-Spain also commented on the incident depicted in the video after viewing it yesterday. He expressed his “sincere regret for the people who did such a cruel thing.” “It is absolutely wrong to hurt animals such as dogs and cats which are our humanity’s best friend,” the official said.
The official also asked Newsday if it was possible to find out if the persons who were shown in the video are Chinese, whether the video was shot in Trinidad and Tobago, and he further questioned why the local man who shot the video did not stop the killing, asking too if he also shared the dog meat with the men who killed the animal.
“I myself personally am strongly against such a killing, because I love dogs and cats,” the Chinese official told Newsday saying he also raised a dog in his home, and not all Chinese people would do such a cruel thing.
“Actually, there are a lot of animal protection volunteers in China,” he added. “They do all their best to protect animals every day.” Explaining that there are no laws in TT to specifically deal with such an incident the TTSPCA president told Newsday, “What we do have is a Summary Offences Act which deals with animal cruelty and, as in a case like this, (where) the animal would not have been most likely treated humanely, the animal cruelty laws would apply.” Kuruvilla indicated the TTSPCA wants to take a broader approach where many different groups are doing construction in Trinidad, to ensure that it is understood on a general scale that this is not accepted practice in TT.
However, she said since they were in a difficult position as far as legislation goes, “we are going to strengthen our position by looking at whatever agencies may have some influence over an issue like this.” Kuruvilla went to say, “I know everybody is getting very workedup about it, but the only way we can prevent things like this from happening is to make it very clear where in the law states that it cannot be allowed.
They need to know that it is not a cultural practice in this country and it is not going to be tolerated by citizens of this country, and certainly not by the Animal Welfare Organisation,” Kuruvilla said.