Every day in China, countless dogs are cooked and eaten -- part of a culinary tradition that dates back thousands of years. Rarely, however, has the grim reality of the cruelties these animals face been so horrifically displayed. The image of a woman cooking a live puppy outside a public marketplace has struck a powerful chord among Chinese internet users since it was first published online recently. Such a scene is unimaginable, though reportedly not uncommon -- but judging from the outrage the photo has generated, it just may help sow the seeds of reform.According to the web site 7SUR7, the horrifying photograph depicts an act that is said to occur regularly in the eastern Chinese city of Kengkou, outside the marketplace where the photo above was reportedly taken. While the demand for dog meat has a spawned canine livestock industry, it is not unusual for stray dogs to be consumed as well.
"Stray puppies are regularly caught in the street to be roasted alive in this market. In China, vehement protests erupted on the Internet following the broadcast of these images," said the report.
Although the origins of the photo are unclear, it has quickly gone viral on Chinese blogs and message boards, eliciting strong reactions from users shocked by the blatant cruelty it portrays. On one forum featuring the photo, the near consensus among well over a thousand commenters is that of horror and disgust.
"Utterly devoid of conscience," writes one user. "She will be a dog in the next life," says another.
In the West, where consuming dog is generally considered taboo, such sentiments will likely be echoed and amplified, but not without a tinge of hypocrisy. Every day in the U.S., millions of livestock animals, like cows, pigs and chickens, are slaughtered in a manner many animal activists consider unduly cruel and inhumane.
While abuse and mistreatment of animals seems universally offensive, so often it takes powerful and disturbing reminders to generate the outrage cruelty warrants -- and to spur reforms that ensure they do not continue. Unfortunately, on that front, our work is far from finished.
Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.
More on Animal Cruelty
Reporting Animal Abuse Can Prevent Future Human Abuse
"The Five Best States to be an Animal Abuser"
Live Animals Being Sold as Keyrings in China