A city ambassador believes Aberdeen should speak out on animal rights abroad – but that timing is crucial.
The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Cllr Barney Crockett, was speaking after more than 3,000 people signed an online petition about the treatment of dogs and cats abroad.
Those behind the petition called on Cllr Crockett to demand that Aberdeen’s “friendship city” of Mokpo in South Korea introduce a law banning the killing and eating of dogs and cats.
Cllr Crockett said that, while he thinks it is fair that those behind the petition have put the focus on him because he is an ambassador for the city, it is important to pick the right time when raising politically sensitive issues.
He added: “Animal welfare has always been a big priority in Aberdeen, stretching back 200 years and it is a valid issue to raise, but the friendship we have with Mokpo is new and it is something we will be able to raise once we know them better.”
The ‘friendship city’ agreement between Mokpo and Aberdeen was announced in February and there is a particular focus on establishing links in renewable energy and higher education over an initial three-year period.
The petition, which has now been signed by 3,276 people, says: “While Aberdeen would have expected to learn about the differences in cultural practices of the Mokpo citizens, we feel certain that the city would have hesitated to form such a friendship city relationship had your city known about the aberrant and cruel practices routinely carried out in the dog and cat meat trades in Mokpo.”
Cllr Crockett said: “I am very proud of Aberdeen and the international outlook we have as a city.
“We have this link but we’re not quite in a position we can point out our differences – it is too early in the friendship.
“I do think though it will be possible in future, perhaps at a face-to-face meeting.”