Shenzhen has just passed a law to ban the consumption and production of dog and cat meat, as well as wildlife - making it the first city in China to do so, according to Humane Society International.
The Society, which has long campaigned for an end to the dog meat trade, has welcomed the news, calling it a 'watershed moment in efforts to ban the trade across China'.
The new law, which was proposed back in February, will come into effect on May 1. According to the Society, it is a permanent ban, unlike the temporary ban on wildlife markets and consumption passed by the national government.
Shenzhen’s ban prohibits 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.
In announcing the ban, 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.”
The Humane Society notes that 'the law clarifies those species permitted to be consumed (pig, cattle, sheep, rabbit, chicken etc, with dogs and cats noticeably absent). Therefore from May 1, the sale of cats and dogs for human consumption will now be banned in restaurants and stores throughout Shenzhen, and sale of live cats and dogs for consumption will be banned in markets'.
'A watershed moment'
"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,"
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International, said in a statement.
"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. 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. Although World Health Organization advice is clear that dogs and cats pose no known coronavirus threat whatsoever, it’s no surprise that attention is turning to this trade at this time because it undoubtedly poses a huge human health risk for other diseases such as rabies, as well as causing immense animal suffering."