Vegan activists have been accused of ‘terrifying’ schoolchildren by ‘barbecuing’ a dog in the middle of a busy street in a protest against eating meat.
The Peta protest – involving a prop dog – was designed to cause outrage and asked people: ‘If you wouldn’t eat a dog, why eat a lamb?’.
It argued that equally sensitive and intelligent animals are forced to endure suffering when they are bred, raised and killed for the meat industry.
In a statement the animal rights organisation said: ‘Anyone who’s repulsed by the prospect of chowing down on dog meat should question the incongruity of their compassion towards other animals.
‘This is called speciesism – a form of discrimination based on nothing more than species – and like all forms of discrimination, it cannot be justified.
‘As humans, we instinctively feel compassion and empathy for animals, but we’re taught that it’s OK to enslave and eat some of them, without a second thought as to who they are as individuals.’
The stunt was carried out at Pitt Street Mall in the centre of Sydney as millions of Aussies are preparing a big barbecue to celebrate annual Australia Day festivities on Saturday.
Peta hope people will reconsider what they cook this year after showing a chef grilling the domesticated pet alongside some vegetables.
But some were horrified by the protest, claiming youngsters on a school break were at the shopping centre and were ‘terrified’ to see the prop animal.
One witness, under the Twitter handle @cockroachBLUE, wrote: ‘Peta stooping to news lows with their stunt in Martin Place today – terrifying children on school holiday outings by barbecuing a (very lifelike) dog. I saw some visible upset kids.’
The animal protesters said: ‘To care about animals – as most Australians claim to – should be to care about all animals.
‘Many animal-free options (which are also better for your health and the environment) are available for your Australia Day barbecue.’
Australia is currently experiencing its hottest January on record with almost every day for the rest of the month expected to stay close to 40°C.
Weather warnings have been issued across the country as the searing heat brings an increased chance of thunderstorms and bush fires.
South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are all experiencing heat above 40°C at the moment and the Bureau of Meteorology said Adelaide could hit 45°C or 46°C today – threatening the highest temperature on record for the city.