Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have passed a landmark piece of legislation, making it illegal to eat dogs and cats, and banning the sale of the animals for consumption.
In China’s major cities, most people look down on the consumption of such animals, with only a few vendors lingering in the more remote outskirts. But in some rural areas, the practice is more common — animal welfare organization Humane Society International estimates some 30 million dogs are killed across Asia for consumption annually.
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“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals,” the Shenzhen city government stated in their official announcement.
Shenzhen’s new regulation follows China’s nationwide permanent shutdown of the 74 billion USD wild animal trade in late February in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
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Recent reports implicate pangolins as a potential intermediary host of Covid-19 before it jumped to humans, in the same way that the bat-borne SARS coronavirus is thought to have first spread to civet cats. Pangolins are sold illegally for their meat and their keratin scales.
But cats and dogs don’t count as “wild animals” under the blanket new ban. Rather, Shenzhen’s individual decision as a city is a proactive step in the right direction — not necessarily for curbing viral pandemics, but for the general treatment of animals and the food industry.
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