AN animal campaign group is asking consumers why people are so appalled at the thought of eating horse meat when they are happy to munch on beef burgers.

It is asking the question in the wake of the scandal which now sees Buckinghamshire County Council officials visiting food suppliers and butchers to test their beef.

In November 2010, national campaign group Animal Aid took to the streets of Britain in a trailer claiming to sell dog meat: Labrador steaks, ‘Real' hot dogs, leg of Greyhound and Afghan burgers.

The trailer was set up in town centres and at farmers' markets across the country in a bid to highlight what the group described as our “inconsistent relationship with animals”. It could very easily have been a horsemeat trailer.

Animal Aid said although people were assured that the dogs had had a wonderful life, and enjoyed running through fields, chasing balls, and were both ‘organic' and ‘free range the shoppers were angry – with some brought to tears – at the thought of slaughtering dogs.

This, the group noted, was in stark contrast to the meat usually bought, which often came from intensive farms where the animals would never have even seen daylight.

Kate Fowler, head of the group’s campaigns, said: “Anyone who has shared their home with a dog knows that each is a unique personality, with complex emotions and the ability to experience contentment, joy, fear and pain.

“This is also true for every animal confined in a farm. And that we choose not to think about them in those terms does not make it any less true. When confronted with the notion of eating dogs, the public was vehement in its opposition. It is equally appalled at the notion of eating horses.

"We hope that anyone who has ever loved a cat, dog, horse or hamster - and is appalled at the thought of killing them for their flesh - will extend that compassion to other animals. They really are not all that different.'