Shenzhen, in southeastern China, made it to the headlines after it has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of cats and dogs, the government announced Thursday.
Officials in Shenzhen, which is about 16 miles from Hong Kong, said in their statement:
“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,”
Under its new rules, which will take effect on May 1, the government emphasizes that it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets in the city.
In February, as a response to the coronavirus outbreak, China passed a law to ban the consumption of wild animals.
Now, Shenzhen will totally ban the consumption of state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals taken from the wild, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species.
In addition to this, the consumption of animals raised as pets, such as cats and dogs will also be considered illegal from then on.
Authorities reiterated that animals that can be consumed only include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, as well as aquatic animals who are not considered banned by other laws or regulations.
Authorities announced on a statement:
“If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times of the wild animal’s value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400 USD.”
Reports from news outlets traced the coronavirus outbreak to have started at a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and authorities have acknowledged their need to bring the lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak.
More than 926,000 have been sickened by the virus and more than 46,000 have died globally as of April 1.
However, authorities believe ending its long-established trade will be hard. The cultural roots of China’s use of wild animals run deep, not just for food but also for traditional medicine, clothing, ornaments, and even pets.
President Xi Jinping said in February the country should “resolutely outlaw and harshly crackdown” on the illegal wildlife trade because of the public health risks it poses.
Before the ban, 54 species, including pangolins and civets were legal as long as they were raised on farms and at least 3,700 markets across the country have been shut down amid inspections.
History suggests this isn’t the first time Chinese officials have tried to contain the trade. In 2003, civets, mongoose-type creatures, were banned and culled in large numbers after it some studies revealed they likely transferred the SARS virus to humans. On the other hand, the selling of snakes was also briefly banned in Guangzhou after the SARS outbreak.
According to Liu Jianping of the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control:
“There is no evidence showing that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock.”
But as of today, authorities believe dishes using wild animals are still being consumed in certain parts of China.