UPDATE at 1:50 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015: The Humane Society responds, below.
Los Angeles' long-standing connections to Asia have made it Ground Zero for a movement against the consumption of dog meat overseas.
As protesters recently decried the practice (see our video, above), a Malibu-based filmmaker prepared to be a part of a lawsuit against the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International for allegedly failing to follow through with a promise to support his documentary on dog-meat consumption in Asia.
"This movie, Eating Happiness, is the most powerful weapon to let people know the truth about the dog-meat trade in Asia," filmmaker Hiroshi Horiike told us. "HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] agreed to help me publicize the cruel abuse of dogs in some Asian countries, then did not do what they promised. It has brought irreparable damage to my ability to promote the movie's message."
The practice has received increasing press in recent years, with The Guardian publishing "How Eating Dog Became Big Business in Vietnam" in 2013, and this year's widespread coverage of the International Human Society's claim that it had persuaded a dog rancher in South Korea to farm blueberries instead — a claim some media now question.
We reached out to the Humane Society in an effort to allow it to respond regarding the Eating Happiness dispute, but we did not get a statement.
To be fair, there are folks who say Americans' disdain for dog meat is ethnocentric: We eat mammals that others consider sacred, including cow, so who are we to dictate the ethics of protein? In fact, few states have a law that expressly forbids the killing and eating of cats or dogs, and in California it's only a misdemeanor, as explained in state penal code 598b.
Attorney David W. Macey represents the producer of the film, World Dog Alliance. He recently fired off a threatening letter to the Humane Society arguing that it entered into an agreement in August to launch a global publicity campaign for the documentary and to promote legislation that bans dog-meat consumption in the United States.
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He claimed that World Dog Alliance donated $500,000 to the Humane Society up front as part of the agreement, but that the society has not done its part.
"If they did any promotion as promised in the agreement, you can imagine how many people would have known about the movie and the cause to end the dog-meat trade worldwide," Horiike said.
UPDATE at 1:50 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015: Humane Society International sent us this statement from Andrew Rowan, its international and scientific officer and chief:
We are committed to shutting down the dog meat trade, and we are attacking this problem on the ground in Asia and complementing that with work in the United States. We believe that awareness-building proportionate to the scale of the problem (millions of dogs are being slaughtered for food) is part of the challenge, and that’s why we were interested in spreading the word about the cruelty of the dog meat trade through Mr. Horiike’s compelling film. We held a screening of the film for hundreds of our advocates in Washington, D.C. in addition to supporting other screenings in Milan and London. Unfortunately the other planned screenings were canceled at the last minute by the producers for unexplained reasons. The planning and coordination between the parties became challenging for that reason, and we offered to refund his donation. While we appreciate Mr. Horiike’s financial support, we are in this fight to end the dog meat trade whether we partner with him or not.