Pitbull
Pitbull Image Credit: Flickr/ Hugo Quintero

An investigation into illegal trading of dog meat has been launched by the authorities in Morocco after a man from Casablanca was arrested with dog carcasses destined for restaurants.

Police discovered the 37 carcasses in the back of the Honda vehicle of the butcher who was stopped for a routine traffic offence.

The driver told the police that he intended to deliver the meat to restaurants in poorer areas of the city, and that they would most likely be used to make sausages.

According to police, the dogs were "slaughtered, skinned and prepared for processing into sausages," a report in the Mail Online suggested.

This is not the first arrest made by authorities for selling dog meat in Morocco. Earlier in January 2009, a restaurant owner in Casablanca was arrested and sentenced to six years in jail for selling dog meat. The man sold the meat presenting it as beef to his customers.

The man later confessed to applying chemicals to the food to mask its smell and colour. 

Traditionally, dogs are considered impure and unclean by Islam and the Islamic legal tradition also instructs Muslims to avoid contact with dogs. Many Islamic traditionalists are also known to kill stray dogs to get rid of them.

Morocco, a strict Islamic country has seen controversies over dog ownership and consumption for quite some time.

The country is currently considering a new law that would ban certain "aggressive" dog breeds and compel their owners to euthanise them.

According to AFP the new law states: "A dangerous dog is one which displays, by nature of its breed or morphological characteristics, aggression deemed to be dangerous to man."

 With the adoption of the new law, owners of "dangerous dogs" would face up to five years in prison and a fine of £3,000, according to the Mail Online.

In a statement, Interior Minister Mohand Laenser told members of parliament that the new law was being considered as Pitbull terriers pose a danger "to the security and peace of mind of citizens".

Though the new act has been denounced by animal welfare associations in Morocco, it has gained wide support from the public.

"The primary responsibility is not on the dog, but rather on the master of the dog. It is the master of the dog who trained it in a bad manner," Saad Mohamed, breeder and owner of Vega, a pit-bull female dog, was quoted as saying by Morocco World news.

Morocco has an estimated two million dogs, a rather low figure compared to the Moroccan population of 34 million people, reports Morocco Mirror.