On April 2, Shenzhen passed the ‘Wild Ban Order’ making it the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The new regulation will go into effect on May 1, as officials look to clamp down on wildlife trading, which has been linked to highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, SARS and Ebola.
The notice whitelists animals available for consumption into two groups: poultry and livestock and aquatic animals. Those illegally consuming wild animals and their products can be fined up to 30 times the value of the goods.
The ban was initially proposed in Shenzhen in late February, around the same time the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) moved to ban the trade and consumption of certain terrestrial wild animals. The draft caused widespread public debate as it proposed that turtles, snakes, dogs and birds would also be banned for consumption.
In the most recently passed bill, the Shenzhen government stated, “Cats and dogs, as pets, have established a closer relationship with humans than other animals. The ban on the consumption of pets such as cats and dogs is also common practice in developed places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and other regions.”
The announcement has made headlines around the world, with large news outlets such as the BBC and CNN reporting the story. Animal rights activists have applauded the move, with policy advisor Dr. Peter Li from the Humane Society International saying, “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.”
In Guangxi province, the controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival is still held every year. Despite receiving massive criticism in recent years, the festival sees thousands of dogs killed for consumption. Last year, animal rights group Humane Society International stepped in and rescued 62 dogs from being slaughtered.
The consumption of dog meat is legal in China; however, BBC adds “the practice of eating dog meat in China is not that common – the majority of Chinese people have never done so and say they don’t want to.”
[Cover image via Unsplash]