U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who raised a lamb named “Susie” in his farmhouse in the 1960s, said Wednesday he doesn’t want cats and dogs slaughtered for meat in the United States.
But U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, is opposing a federal ban on the killing of dogs and cats for human consumption, while two other Iowans in Congress — Reps. David Young, R-Van Meter, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City — are co-sponsors of legislation supporting such a prohibition.
Grassley, a New Hartford Republican, was asked during his weekly teleconference with Iowa reporters about provisions in House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill pending in Washington, D.C., that would prohibit the slaughter of dogs or cats for human consumption. The provisions would also ban the transport of dogs or cats, or dog or cat parts, for human consumption.
Grassley, a lifelong farmer, initially suggested he opposed such a ban, saying he has supported the slaughter of horses because people in some places in the world, such as Europe, may want to eat horse meat.
“I don’t want horse meat. I don’t want dog meat. I don’t want to eat cats, but if somebody wants to eat them, let them eat them,” the senator said.
But Grassley phoned the Des Moines Register shortly after the teleconference call to clarify his remarks. He proceeded to tell a story of how he doesn’t even eat lamb meat, explaining how there were triplets in his farm’s lamb flock in 1967 and one lamb named Susie had to be raised in his house. Susie lived to be 12 years old, but even when she was older, she wanted to come into the house, he said.
“This was one of the ewes, and I have never eaten lamb ever since because I always thought I would be eating Susie,” Grassley explained in his follow-up conversation.
“So, obviously, you can see my aversion to (eating) cats and dogs, and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want the slaughter of cats and dogs in the United States,” the senator said.
But Grassley also said he isn’t backing off his support for slaughtering horses for human consumption. In addition, he said he doesn’t anticipate the Senate will have a separate “Yes” or “No” vote on the issue of banning the trade of cat and dog meat before a final vote is taken on the wide-ranging Farm Bill in September.
Congressman King was among members of the House Agriculture Committee who scoffed at the idea of the need for a ban on killing dogs and cats for consumption when the issue was debated in April, according to the McClatchy Washington Bureau. King reportedly said the issue “is not a problem in the United States of America” and suggested U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-California, who sponsored the provision, was “burning our time.”
King’s aides didn’t respond this week to a request for comment about the legislation from the Register. Nor did aides to Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak; or to Reps. Rod Blum, R-Dubuque, and Young.
Young and Loebsack are officially listed among 245 co-sponsors of H.R. 1406, which would prohibit the slaughter, trade or import/export of dogs and cats for human consumption in the United States. Joe Hand, an aide to Loebsack, said Wednesday the congressman was pleased to see language from the legislation included in the Farm Bill.
Advocates of such bans have cited a case in Pennsylvania in which a man was caught breeding dogs for meat, and another situation in Hawaii in which a pet dog was stolen and reportedly killed to eat. But advocates said another goal is to send a message globally against the consumption of dogs and cats, which is not uncommon in some Asian countries such as China and South Korea.
More: ‘Heartbroken’ U.S. Olympian Gus Kenworthy visits South Korean dog meat farm, adopts puppy
The Humane Society of the United States supports the proposed ban.
“The House and Senate provisions will prevent this appalling trade from taking hold in the U.S. and strengthen our hand in seeking to end it worldwide, according to a statement issued by the Humane Society. “Around 30 million dogs and untold numbers of cats are subjected to this brutal industry globally every year, with animals often snatched off the street or stolen from loving families, still wearing collars as they are subjected to unspeakable abuse to end up on someone’s dinner plate.
Advocates of the ban say the trade of dog and cat meat is still legal in 44 states.
Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, told the Register the sale of dog or cat meat is already illegal under Iowa law.
All meat that is sold in Iowa must come from a licensed and inspected facility, either by the Iowa agriculture department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Vande Hoef said.
“There is no approved facility that could slaughter or process dog or cat meat, so any effort to sell meat from those animals would be illegal,” Vande Hoef said.