The Seoul city government is seeking to classify man's best friend as livestock in order to set food safety standards for South Korean lovers of dog meat.
Somewhere between two and four million dogs are estimated to be consumed in South Korea every year, but the slaughtering and processing is carried out in dirty environments and poses a risks to diners' health.
Since dogs are not currently classed as livestock there are no hygiene regulations on their slaughter, officials said.
"Dogs are consumed in their millions in this country every year. That's a fact. We have to take care of this situation,'' said Lee Hae-Woo, head of the city government's department of food safety.
"We plan to recommend to the central government that dogs are classified as livestock,'' he said. "This is like a hot potato, but we don't pretend the issue does not exist.''
South Korea's capital has always been ambivalent about dogmeat. To avoid adverse publicity before the 1988 Olympics, the city banned dogmeat and snakemeat as "abhorrent food".
The order is now largely ignored and an estimated 500 dogmeat restaurants operate in Seoul alone.
The reclassification proposal sparked angry reactions from animal activists, who staged street protests and launched online signature campaigns.