The Chinese government has stated that dogs and cats should not be slaughtered for their meat.
Animal welfare organization the Humane Society International (HSI) has referred to the statement as a potential “game-changer” for ending the country’s dog meat trade.
The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently published a draft document of the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources. The document provides a list of animals considered livestock. It is now open for public consultation until May 8.
The list includes pigs, ducks, and chickens. Dogs and cats are not on the list. In the past, the animals have not appeared on the list as livestock, but the Ministry has never before provided an explanation.
In a statement, it said: “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.”
It continued: “dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world. China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry.”
‘A Watershed Moment’
The statement follows Shenzhen’s ban on the consumption of dog and cat meat.
The southeastern city recently became the first in the country to pass such a ban. At the time, HSI’s China policy specialist Dr. Peter Li said it “could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade.”
The law will come into effect in Shenzhen from the beginning of May.
Every year, around 10 million dogs are killed for their meat in China. Most Chinese people do not eat dog meat. According to HSI, less than 20 percent of the population eat dog meat infrequently—but this could now be about to change.
“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,” said Wendy Higgins, HSI’s director of international media, in a statement.
“Tens of millions of dogs and cats every year, mostly stolen pets, suffer the agonies of the brutal meat trade,” she continued. “There is no greater desire to see it end than among Chinese animal groups and animal lovers themselves.”