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Friday, 31 March, 2000, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Saint Bernards on the menu?

By Claire Doole in Geneva

Swiss animal rights campaigners are calling on the government to prevent the national dog, the Saint Bernard, from ending up on Chinese dinner plates.

The Swiss branch of the International Association for the Protection of Animals has asked for a ban on the export of dogs and cats to countries which kill them to be eaten.

They say a loophole in the law means the famed mountain rescue dogs are ending up as potted meat in China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Campaigners, accompanied by three Saint Bernards, handed in a letter of protest to the Swiss Government.

They say Chinese television reports have praised the Saint Bernard as the perfect dog for meat production.

It is alleged the dogs are often tortured before being skinned alive to increase their adrenalin supply, which gives the meat aphrodisiac qualities.

The animal lovers took up the campaign to save the Saint Bernard from slaughter after they met a wall of silence from Swiss breeders.

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