Dogs and British colonialism : the contested ban on eating dogs in colonial Hong Kong

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Journal article

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The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

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Advance online publication


British colonialism brought new standards of treatment towards animals to the Far East. This article examines the ways in which the western concept of dogs and animal welfare introduced by the British colonists was received, and contested, in Hong Kong, and the colonial politics that shaped the way the controversial legislation against eating dog meat was created and passed in 1950. It argues that the original concept of animal welfare did not consider eating dogs a form of animal cruelty, as long as dogs were killed in a humane way for their meat. The dog-loving native elites, who saw dogs as pets which thus should not be eaten, manipulated the outbreak of rabies epidemic in 1949 to their advantage by petitioning the government that dog-eating was conducive to the spread of rabies. The resulting 1950 ordinance against dog-eating rationalised the taboo against eating dogs in the name of public health and extended the ‘benevolence’ of British colonialism to dogs. Yet it also brought a challenge to colonial administration due to the difficulty of its implementation.



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Recommended Citation

Poon, S. W. (2013). Dogs and British colonialism: The contested ban on eating dogs in colonial Hong Kong. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/03086534.2013.851873