This Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs released a new draft list of terrestrial animals permitted to be raised as livestock. The draft explicitly excluded dogs.
The Ministry called dogs a “special companion animal,” not livestock, a view that represents “progress of human civilization.” Public health and animal welfare concerns were also cited as reasons for the decision, which comes after China temporarily banned all wildlife trade in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The draft could spell the beginning of the end for consumption of dog meat across the country, and could finally put an end the infamous Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, a source of heavy international and domestic criticism over the years. Earlier this month, Shenzhen became the first Chinese city to ban eating dogs. The Ministry will be assessing public opinion on the draft through May 8.
“That signals a major shift, recognizing that most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats and want an end to the theft of their companion animals for a meat trade that only a small percentage of the population indulge in,” Wendy Higgins from Humane Society International told the Guardian.
“Most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats and want an end to the theft of their companion animals,” – Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International
The news generated heavy discussion on Chinese social media, including the Twitter-like platform Weibo.
“Dogs make excellent companions, so please respect their rights!” writes one dog lover.
“A lot of comments here about chicken, cows, and sheep,” writes another. “Do chickens search and rescue? Do cows act as support animals? Do sheep sniff out drugs? Will you die if you don’t eat dogs?”
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It’s estimated that 10 million dogs are killed for trade and consumption in China each year. But a survey from Animals Asia reveals that the vast majority of Chinese people oppose dog meat consumption. Racist stereotypes that Chinese people overwhelmingly eat dogs, however, have endured.
The Ministry included 18 “traditional” livestock and poultry on its list, like cattle, chickens, water buffalo, camels, rabbits, and ducks, as well as 13 “special” animals, like reindeer, alpacas, and ostriches.
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