Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 17:02 UK

New Zealand row over roasted pet

Pit bull Terrier

A heated debate has begun in New Zealand after a man killed and roasted his family's pit bull terrier, with the intention of eating it.

Paea Taufa, of Tongan origin, killed his dog in February after he decided it had become too much of a nuisance.

He struck the dog with a hammer, slit its throat and roasted it.

His actions sparked a row after the authorities decided that the animal had been killed humanely and that Mr Taufa had done nothing illegal.

Under New Zealand's Animal Welfare Act it is legal to kill a dog if it is slaughtered swiftly and painlessly.

A commentator in the New Zealand Herald newspaper, Brian Rudman, praised Mr Taufa, saying that pit bull terriers were dangerous.

"They should be giving him a medal. If every pit bull owner in the land followed his lead, New Zealand would be a safer place to live."

He added: "The pit bull fraternity should be persuaded that their pets, once barbecued, are as delicious as crayfish or rare sirloin."

Culture differences?

Unsurprisingly, animal rights activists have been outraged, and some are now for calling for the law to change.

If every pit bull owner in the land followed his lead, New Zealand would be a safer place to live
Brian Rudman, New Zealand Herald

Robyn Kippenberger, Chief Executive of New Zealand's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says people have been greatly disturbed by the incident.

"In New Zealand... we regard... a dog as a man's best friend and a lot of people have been outraged by this killing," she told the BBC World Service.

She said that she had been speaking to people from the Tongan community and had discovered that this was not a cultural issue.

"Tongans aren't accustomed to eating dogs. It's not like Vietnamese or Chinese cultures where dogs are farmed for food.

"Tongans say that this is quite rare, and that it's only poor people who eat their dogs."

This is not the first time the practice of eating dogs has been seen as culturally sensitive.

In 2008, China ordered dog meat to be taken off the menu at its 112 official Olympic restaurants in order to avoid offending foreign visitors.

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