China has officially recognized dogs as companions and not 'livestock' just weeks ahead of the controversial Yulin dog meat festival.
The announcement follows the Agriculture Ministry's final Director of Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry - which excludes dogs from a list of animals that are labeled as livestock.
The reclassification of dogs was open to public consultation until May 8, and attracted global media attention as well as the likes of vegan celebrity Lewis Hamilton.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Dr. Peter Li, China Policy Specialist at Humane Society International (HSI) said: "We're hopeful that China will take stronger steps to hasten the end of the dog and cat meat trade for which millions of animals continue to suffer every year.
"The announcement presents cities across China with the perfect opportunity to act upon the government's words by protecting dogs and cats from the meat trade thieves and slaughterhouses."
'A bloody spectacle'
Dr. Li continued: "In just a few weeks, the dog slaughterhouses of Yulin will fill up with terrified dogs awaiting brutal slaughter for its infamous festival. A great many of those dogs will have been stolen from homes and streets before being transported to Yulin...
"The Yulin festival is a bloody spectacle that does not reflect the mood or eating habits of the majority of the Chinese people, and its continuation flouts the sentiment expressed by the Ministry of Agriculture."