Just outside Jackson, Mississippi Telford Bloom has found a way to feed the poor and hungry: dog meat. I conducted an email interview with Mr. Bloom to talk about his bizarre venture.
Me: Hey, thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Telford: No problem.
Me: So you were able to get online alright?
Telford: Yes. Brother has it. He’s letting me borrow his email.
Me: It’s easier for me to do these interviews over email so I don’t have to record and transcribe conversations.
Telford: That’s fine.
Me: First, the big question. Why dog meat? Don’t you think it’s morally wrong?
Telford: Here in Jackson we have two big problems: too many hungry people and too many feral or unwanted dogs. Most dogs go to the shelter where they are euthanized and buried in mass graves. It’s a lot of meat that could be going to help families who are struggling to put food on the table.
Me: But the moral question. Dogs are pets. Should we really be eating them? Aren’t they man’s best friend?
Telford: If you got hungry enough you’d eat a dog. You’d even eat your pet rat or snake or guinea pig. Trust me, I’ve felt real hunger before and there’s nothing you wouldn’t eat to quiet it. So it’s easy for people to look down their noses with judgment when they’re not going to bed hungry every night.
What’s morally wrong to me is LETTING CHILDREN GO TO BED HUNGRY.
Me: Are people actually eating the dogs now? Or is this something you’re just trying to get off the ground?
Telford: Yes. It’s small right now. About 50 families. But yes, people are eating the dogs. I sell ground dog meat for .29 cents a pound. It’s all ground. Having only one kind of meat keeps my costs down and allows me to pass the savings onto my customers.
Me: Are you making a profit?
Telford: No, I’m not. But I’m not losing. It’s about break even. Eventually I should make enough to live on and I’ll be able to go off disability.
Me: How do you get the dogs?
Telford: I round a lot up. Some sympathetic people know what I’m doing and bring me feral dogs or dogs they can no longer afford. My brother has placed ads on Chad’s List for people that need to get rid of dogs for behavioral reasons or they’re moving or they can no longer afford them.
Me: Why not cats too? It seems we have many feral cats in this country.
Telford: Because cats don’t obey.
Me: I’m trying to make sense of the economics. How do you afford to feed the dogs? It seems like that would break you pretty fast.
Telford: Couple ways. First: scraps. One requirement I have to lock down the .39 a pound price is that my customers have to bring all table scraps back to my dog ranch – no matter what they are. Yes, often it’s dog meat scraps. I also, people will cast judgment on me for this, feed the weaker dogs, and the dogs who have died, to the bigger, stronger dogs. The dogs also breed and I try to raise half the puppies, and the other half I feed to the bigger dogs. For water I have a well. So that costs nothing. I do provide some regular dog food and some vitamin supplements.
I also feed the dogs road kill: deer, possum, skunk, raccoons. I’ve even fed them unwanted horses before. A horse goes a long way.
Me: Okay. I’m a little taken aback. I don’t want to judge you. But feeding dogs…. dogs doesn’t seem right.
Telford: Poultry industry feeds chicken, chicken. I didn’t invent this. And you and everybody else are just conditioned to see dogs as pets, not as a meat source.
Me: I guess that’s true. I know the Chinese eat dogs.
Telford: Let’s not talk about the Chinese. They’re a big part of the poverty problem here and why we’re eating dogs.
Me: I was just mentioning it to help strengthen your case. I didn’t mean to upset you.
Telford: Anything else?
Me: How many dogs do you have now? How many do you kill a day?
Telford: I don’t KILL them. I BUTCHER them. That’s important language to differentiate. The shelter is who KILLS dogs and then wastes their meat. I think they’re the bad guys in this whole deal
I have roughly 100 canines. About 70% will be turned into human food. The other dogs will be fed to the other dogs.
Me: One last question and I’ll let you go. What does dog taste like?
Telford: I don’t know. I’ve never tried it.