Shenzhen in southeastern China has banned the consumption of cats and dogs, the government announced Thursday. Under new rules which will come into effect May 1, the government said it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets. In February, due to the covid-19 outbreak, China passed a law to ban the consumption of state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals taken from the wild, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species. But ending the trade won’t be easy as well.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals. Apart from dogs and cats, the regulations bar snake, frog and turtle meat from the dinner table. Animals that can be consumed include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, as well as aquatic animals that are not banned by other laws or regulations.
“If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times of the wild animal’s value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400 USD],” announced authorities. The officials have described the regulation as the ‘universal civilization requirement for a modern society’. Chinese officials crack down on wildlife markets as coronavirus outbreak nears 3,000 cases
The coronavirus outbreak is thought to have started at a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and authorities have acknowledged they need to bring the lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak. However ending the trade will be hard. The cultural roots of China’s use of wild animals run deep, not just for food but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments and even pets.
This isn’t the first time Chinese officials have tried to contain the trade. In 2003, civets — mongoose-type creatures — were banned and culled in large numbers after it was discovered they likely transferred the SARS virus to humans. The selling of snakes was also briefly banned in Guangzhou after the SARS outbreak. But today dishes using the animals are still eaten in parts of China.
Animal rights activists have praised the Shenzhen government for issuing the ban. Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International, said in a statement: ‘With Shenzhen taking the historic decision to become mainland China’s first city to ban dog and cat meat consumption, this really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year.
‘The majority of these companion animals are stolen from people’s back yards or snatched from the streets, and are spirited away on the backs of trucks to be beaten to death in slaughterhouses and restaurants across China.
Shenzhen is China’s fifth largest city so although the dog meat trade is fairly small there compared with the rest of the province, its true significance is that it could inspire a domino effect with other cities following suit. Beijing is yet to revise its wild animal protection law, but the passage of the proposal was ‘essential’ and ‘urgent’ in helping the country win its war against the epidemic, wrote state newspaper People’s Daily.
Via daily mail