China’s city of Shenzhen has just passed a ground-breaking law to ban the consumption and production of dog and cat meat, and has become the first city in China to do so. The ban has been welcomed by long-time anti-dog meat trade campaigners Humane Society International as a watershed moment in ongoing efforts to ban the trade across China.
The law also addresses the wildlife trade.
The food safety legislation proposed in February by Shenzhen legislators, will come into effect on May 1. Unlike the temporary ban on wildlife markets and consumption passed by the national government, Shenzhen’s ban is a permanent prohibition on the consumption, breeding, and sale of wildlife such as snakes, lizards, and other wild animals for human consumption – with heavy fines of up 150,000 yuan (R391 98).
A spokesperson for the Shenzhen government said: “Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”
From May 1, the sale of cats and dogs for human consumption will be banned in restaurants and stores throughout Shenzhen, and sale of live cats and dogs for consumption will be banned in markets.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International, welcomed the news, saying: “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 four-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,” he added. “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. Most people in China don’t eat dog or cat meat, and there is considerable opposition to the trade particularly among younger Chinese. “