A city in China has drafted proposals to ban eating dog meat - alongside the flesh of other animals including cats, frogs, and turtles - in the wake of the coronavirus, which now reportedly killed in excess of 2,800 people worldwide with tens of thousands more infected
Lawmakers in Shenzhen, which has approximately 13 million residents and links Hong Kong to China's mainland, submitted the proposed legislation to the Chinese government's website.
They now say they are waiting for public feedback on the proposals - which they described as the 'universal civilization requirement of a modern society' - before they sign the proposal into law. The proposals follow years of campaigns to ban eating dog meat.
First of its kind
The document submitted to the website says there are only nine types of livestock which are 'suitable to eat', listing them as pigs, sheep, cows, pigeons, ducks, rabbits, donkeys, and geese alongside some aquatic animals.
An official said: "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."
Wild animal trade
The proposals follow a recent crackdown on the trade and consumption of wild animals by the country’s top legislative committee - the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee - which passed the law in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
It is believed the virus started at a 'wet market' - where live animals are freshly slaughtered and kept in close proximity to humans and dead animals - in Wuhan in early December.
The Humane Society's president - Kitty Block - wrote that the market vendors were selling 'live cats and dogs, turtles, snakes, rats, hedgehogs and marmots', and 'menus and signboards posted online also listed foxes, wolf cubs, monkeys and masked palm civets, among other animals'.
This believed origin of the virus has led officials to rethink the wild animal trade, and as a result, according to reports, almost 20,000 wildlife farms - which breed animals including wild geese, boar, porcupines, peacocks and civet cats among others - have now been shut down.
'Huge human risk'
The move to ban dog meat in Shenzhen has been welcomed by campaigners including the Humane Society International, with the organization's China policy specialist Peter Li telling MailOnline: "Although the trade in Shenzhen is fairly small compared with the rest of the province, Shenzhen is still a huge city bigger than Wuhan so this would be very significant and could even have a domino effect with other cities following.
"Already in Yulin where the notorious dog meat festival is held, most dog slaughter operations have temporarily shut down in the last two months because no dogs are allowed to be transported across provincial boundaries.
"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 as well as causing immense cruelty to our companion animals, the dog meat trade undoubtedly poses a huge human health risk for other diseases such as rabies."