The House of Representatives will likely consider a bill this week that would make it illegal to kill cats and dogs for food.
The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act was originally introduced last year as part of a farm bill. But the legislation stalled in a conference committee and never made it out of Congress, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Last week, two members of Congress from Florida—Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Alcee Hastings—reintroduced the bill. Their legislation makes it a crime to "knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption" and to "knowingly ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell, or donate" any dogs or cats that have been killed for food. Violators can be fined up to $5,000, though the law doesn't apply to Native Americans participating in "religious ceremon[ies]."
Six states currently have laws on the books prohibiting the killing of cats and dogs for food. The remaining 44 do not.
The bill, which has received bipartisan support and is likely to be taken up on Wednesday, should pass easily in the House, according to the Washington Examiner. This is probably because Congress has already solved the rest of the nation's problems and has nothing left on its agenda.
Hastings says he wants the U.S. to serve as an example to other countries where people actually do eat cats and dogs. But eating American house pets is already vanishingly rare; The Washington Post reported in April that there are very few documented cases of this happening.
The existence of a law is unlikely to save the lives of any actual animals. Instead, the goal is to let a few congressmen showboat for specific constituencies in their districts. And, despite the explicit exception for Native American religious ceremonies, you can be sure the law will later be applied unpredicably, unevenly, and unfairly.
Remember, just because something is considered gross or bad by a large number of people (including me!) doesn't mean it should be illegal.
The government should stay out of our stomachs.