The city of Shenzhen, in southern China’s Guangdong province, might become the first in the country to ban the consumption of dog and cat meat following a food safety legislative proposal has been drafted in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The proposed law focuses mainly on prohibiting the consumption of wildlife such as snakes, turtles and bats; the inclusion of cats and dogs has been added specifically in acknowledgement of their status as companion animals rather than for any disease risk fears.
Even so, the proposal has been welcomed by Humane Society International (HSI) as having the potential to start a precedent in China to crack down on a trade that sees an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats killed for meat annually.
Shenzhen’s legislators will await public responses to the proposed ban before turning it into law.
Peter Li, China policy expert for HSI, said, “It would be extremely welcome for dog and cat meat consumption to be banned in Shenzhen, particularly because the proposal specifically recognises dogs and cats as companions who must be protected from this brutal and largely illegal trade, a sentiment that could have huge ramifications for the millions of dogs and cats who are stolen across China for human consumption.
“Although the trade in Shenzhen is fairly small compared with the rest of the province, Shenzhen is still a huge city and is larger than Wuhan, so this would be very significant and could even have a domino effect with other cities following. Already in Yulin where the notorious dog meat festival is held, most dog slaughter operations have temporarily shut down in the last two months because no dogs are allowed to be transported across provincial boundaries.
“Although World Health Organisation advice is clear that dogs and cats pose no known coronavirus threat whatsoever, it’s no surprise that attention is turning to this trade at this time. The dog meat trade causes immense cruelty to our companion animals and poses a huge human health risk for other diseases such as rabies.”
Most people in China don’t eat dogs; in fact dog meat is only eaten infrequently by less than 20 per cent of the Chinese population. A 2017 survey revealed that even in Yulin, home of the notorious dog meat festival, most people (72 per cent) don’t regularly eat dog meat.
Nationwide, a 2016 survey found that the vast majority (69.5%) of Chinese citizens have never eaten dog meat. About 64 per cent want to see an end to the Yulin festival, and more than half (51.7 per cent) think the dog meat trade should be completely banned.
Images by HSI