A city in China has banned its residents from eating dog and cat meat with a groundbreaking new law in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Animal activists have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the consumption of pets for years, and the new accord is the first of its kind in the country.
The legislation was yesterday passed by lawmakers in Shenzhen, a city of around 13 million people, and will take effect on May 1, according to a government notice.
One charity group hailed the passage as a ‘historic decision’ which marked ‘a watershed moment’ in the animal protection in China.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals.
Apart from dogs, the regulations bar snake, frog and turtle meat from the dinner table.
The news comes after China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the country’s deadly virus epidemic.
They said they had considered the city’s practical situation before including the extra animal species, which are not wildlife. The aim is to ‘further satisfy the daily needs of the people’.
According to the document, nine types of livestock are suitable for people to eat. They are pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.
Residents are also allowed to dine on aquatic animals permitted by law.
Commenting on the necessity for the government to create ‘a white list’, one spokesperson previously said the authority wanted to make it easier for people to know what can be eaten.
‘There are so many animal species in nature. In our country alone, there are more than 2,000 kinds of protected wild animal species.
‘If the local authority is to produce a list of the wild animals that cannot be eaten, it will be too lengthy and cannot answer the question exactly what animals can be eaten,’ the official said.
Animal rights activists have praised the Shenzhen government for issuing the ban.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International, said in a statement: ‘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 4 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.