A city in China could be the first to ban dog and cat meat, if a new law is passed.
Shenzhen’s government has proposed the ban to protect the special relationship between people and their pets. A spokesperson for the city’s government described the relationship as a “consensus of all human civilisation”.
Dog thieves in China are notorious for snatching domestic pets from streets and gardens to fuel the trade, and animals are often kept in terrible conditions.
The Humane Society International (HSI), which welcomes the proposed law, estimates that 10 million dogs, and four million cats are killed for meat in China each year.
Despite this, most people in China do not eat dogs. The animals are eaten only infrequently, by less than 20 per cent of the country’s population. According to a 2017 survey, even in Yulin - a Chinese city infamous for its annual dog meat festival - 72 per cent of residents do not eat dog meat.
Peter Li, China policy expert for Humane Society International, said the ban “could have huge ramifications for the millions of dogs and cats who are stolen across China for human consumption.”
A poll conducted by HSI found that most Chinese citizens wanted to see an end to the dog meat trade, and Li believes a ban in a city like Shenzhen could cause a “domino effect” across the country.
The draft legislation, which is still in its public consultation phase, was created in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As well as a separate ban on the consumption of dog and cat meat, the law also considers the prohibition of meat from animals like snakes, turtles, and bats - which are thought to carry diseases.
“Although World Health Organization 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,” said Li.
“The dog meat trade causes immense cruelty to our companion animals and poses a huge human health risk for other diseases such as rabies.”
If Shenzhen introduced the ban, it would follow Taiwan, which outlawed the consumption of cat and dog meat in 2017.