China officially announced on Wednesday that dogs should be treated as pets, not livestock.
The announcement came shortly after a ban on eating and trading wild animals was put into effect. Chinese officials established the ban in response to a theory that the coronavirus was first spread to humans at a Wuhan “wet” market.
“With the progress of human civilization and the public’s concern and preference for animal protection, dogs have changed from traditional domestic animals to companion animals,” China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.
“Dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world, and China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry.”
Activists hope that the announcement will bring an end to the country’s inhumane cat and dog meat trade. Seems like they’re onto something because just last week, Shenzhen became China’s first city to completely ban the consumption and production of dog meat.
10 million dogs are killed in China’s dog meat trade each year. According to Humane Society International, less than 20% of Chinese people eat dog meat, and those who do, do so infrequently. Nearly 70% of Chinese people polled in a 2016 nationwide survey claim to have never eaten dog at all.
In tandem with its initiative to quell the eating and trading of wild animals, China has distributed a draft of a document for the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources. The list comprises livestock that can be legally traded for meat, fur, and medical purposes.
By law, it has never been legal to trade dogs or cats in China, but the new document explains the omission for the first time. Although the document will remain open to the public for feedback until May 8th, campaigners are optimistic.
Wendy Higgins, director of Humane Society International, comments: “This draft proposal could signal a game-changer moment for animal protection in China.”
“Coming so soon after Shenzhen’s dog and cat meat ban, it is incredibly encouraging now to see a draft on the table in mainland China that could effectively ban the eating of dogs and cats.”
“Tens of millions of dogs and cats every year, mostly stolen pets, suffer the agonies of the brutal meat trade, and there is no greater desire to see it end than among Chinese animal groups and animal lovers themselves.”
China’s rewrite of the livestock catalog was put forth just as a new study emerged which found that cats and ferrets are more susceptible to becoming infected with COVID-19. Other animals like dogs, chickens, pigs, and ducks were found to be resistant to the virus.
The paper has prompted the World Health Organization to announce they would take a look at the transmission of the novel coronavirus between humans and their pets.