China’s Ministry of Agriculture has created new guidelines on which animals can be bred for eating.
The new rules bring one significant change and reclassify dogs as pets instead of livestock.
The announcement says: “As far as dogs are concerned, along with the progress of human civilisation and the public concern and love for animal protection, dogs have been ‘specialised’ to become companion animals, and internationally are not considered to be livestock, and they will not be regulated as livestock in China”.
The new rule means that dogs cannot be bred for consumption, fur, fiber, medicine, or for military or sports purposes.
Animal-rights organisations have worked for years to ban the global dog and cat meat trade.
Humane Society International estimated that 10 million dogs are killed for food in China every year.
Peter Li, PhD, Humane Society China Policy Specialist said: “This is the first time we’ve ever seen China’s national government explain that dogs are companion animals.
“Recognising that dogs hold a special bond with humans is an essential first step towards eliminating the consumption and trade in dog meat.”
Last week, Shenzhen became the first Chinese city to ban the consumption and sale of dogs and cats. The new law also prohibits the breeding, selling, and eating of protected wildlife species.
“This could be a pivotal moment that provides encouragement for other cities across the country to follow Shenzhen’s lead to ban the eating of dogs and cats,” Li said.
China has now classified 18 animals as “livestock”, including cows, pigs, chickens, and camels and added 13 “special livestock species” such as foxes, alpacas and ostriches.
Chinese government revised the animals’ classification in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to have originated in a “wet” animal market in Wuhan.
The global community has been putting pressure on China and other countries to close all the wet markets and ban the wildlife trade.
Humane Society International alarms that the way Chinese government reclassified some animals as livestock is disturbing.
Teresa Telecky, PhD, Vice President of Wildlife at HSI, said: “Listing wild animals, including foxes and raccoon dogs, as ‘special livestock’ is concerning,”
“Rebranding wildlife as livestock doesn’t alter the fact that there are insurmountable challenges to keeping these species in commercial captive breeding environments, and that their welfare needs simply can’t be met. In addition, there’s clear evidence that some of these species can act as intermediate hosts of viruses, such as COVID-19, which is why we’re urging governments around the world to stop trading in wildlife.”