The coronavirus pandemic is truly an unprecedented global event. It’s hard to imagine a ton of good coming of it, but I’m here to deliver some of that to you. In the wake of the virus, the southeastern China city of Shenzhen will ban the consumption of dogs and cats, among other animals!
Open markets where animal meats are sold make ideal environments for diseases. After the devastating spread of COVID-19, originating in a market in Wuhan, these concerns are at the forefront. Provincial and city governments throughout the country have begun working to enforce wildlife trade regulations. Shenzhen, in particular, made a push to include cats and dogs in the wildlife trade bans.
On May 1st, an official ban on eating dogs and cats comes into effect in Shenzhen. This makes it the first mainland China city to ban dog and cat meat. Restaurants and shops will be forbidden from selling cats and dogs for human consumption. Markets will no longer be able to sell live cats and dogs for consumption either.
A city government order posted Wednesday acknowledged the existing necessity for the ban.
“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 initial proposed ban covered the consumption of frogs and turtles as well. That ended up being a point of contention. The ban clarifies that domestic animals raised for food and not banned by other laws are still acceptable.
A Huge Step In The Right Direction
Animal Rights organizations praised Shenzhen’s efforts. Teresa M. Telecky, the Vice President of the wildlife department for Humane Society International hopes other governments follow Shenzen’s example.
“Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and make the changes needed to avoid another pandemic. Shenzhen’s bold steps to stop this trade and wildlife consumption is a model for governments around the world to emulate.”
Dr. Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist hopes the dog/cat meat trade ends entirely soon. This, he says, is a great start.
“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.”
According to Li, the majority of these companion animals sold as meat are stolen from people’s yards or taken from the streets. Public opinion has been against the trade for a while.
“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.”
The World Health Organization found no coronavirus threat from cats and dogs, but consumption still poses health risks. And not to mention, a lot of animal suffering!
Even though it took a pandemic to really spark action, the gears have begun turning. Yay Shenzhen!