A second Chinese city has banned its residents from eating dogs and cats with a new law in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zhuhai, a city bordering Macau with a population of 1.7 million, issued the order in line with a government’s proposal which lists dogs as ‘companion animals’, an official told state media.
ALSO READ: Why doctors banned Boris Johnson from riding his motorbike as he recovers from coronavirus
Shenzhen is the first Chinese city to bar pet meat from the dining table. It is situated across the Pearl River estuary from Zhuhai.
The two cities, both in the southern province of Guangdong, will enforce the ban from May 1.
- Uproar as McDonald’s ‘bans black people from entering their store in a Chinese city out of fears they might have coronavirus’
- Wuhan’s biggest wet market reopens: Footage shows vendors selling live crayfish in the former epicentre, but wild animals are now banned in the wake of coronavirus pandemic
- Chinese medics are hailed as ‘heroes’ after giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a collapsed stranger during coronavirus outbreak
- Horrified panda fans ‘watch a cub die of suffocation’ as it ‘hangs off a wooden rack for SEVEN HOURS without being noticed by workers’ at a Chinese breeding centre
Zhuhai officials announced the decision at a press conference yesterday, reported state-run China News.
Yong Ling, the supervisor of the legal affairs committee of the Standing Committee of People’s Congress of Zhuhai Municipality, said lawmakers must adhere to the country’s Directory of Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry to decide what types of meat is legal to be traded and eaten.
Because dogs and cats were not included a drafted version of the directory, the city decided to forbid the consumption of them, Yong added.
Offenders will face a fine of up to 20 times the value of the meat, according to the law, according to another report from Xinhua.
The move is part of a wider ban on the trading of wild animals in Zhuhai to ensure food safety in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The city will prohibit all restaurants, hotels and farms from selling exotic meat from May 1.
Scientists believe that the novel coronavirus was passed to humans from wild animals sold as food in a market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has killed more than 130,000 people and infected more than two million worldwide since an outbreak emerged in December.
China’s last major health crisis, the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003, was also linked to the consumption of wild animals.
The SARS virus killed 775 people globally and was later found in civets, a small cat-like mammal, sold in markets in Guangdong.
Last week, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs excluded dogs from farm animals in a drafted directive.
The authority said it recognises dogs as ‘companion animals’ and ‘not suitable’ to be managed as livestock in the document released on April 8.
Only the animals officially listed as livestock or poultry can be bred, raised, traded and transported for commercial purposes in China, according to China’s Animal Husbandry Law.
This means the proposal can potentially prevent around 10 million dogs being killed for their meat every year in the country.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, held every year on the summer solstice, is one of the most controversial food festivals in China.
It sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals.
Animal welfare organisations have expressed their support for the pet meat ban in Zhuhai.
Wendy Higgins, a spokesperson of Humane Society International, called it ‘thrilling news for all those in China and around the world who have campaigned for so long to end this brutal trade.’
She told MailOnline: ‘Coming so soon after Shenzhen’s ban and the government’s historic statement classifying dogs as pets, we hope this is the start of a domino effect of progressive legislation across China with other cities following suit.’
She also pointed out that ‘most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats’.
‘So now it would seem that in the absence of a national ban, cities are taking matters into their own hands and reflecting the mood of the people,’ she added.
Shenzhen announced it will ban its residents from eating dog and cat meat on April 1 after passing a drafted law the day before. The city has around 13 million residents and borders Hong Kong.