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Dogs are no longer livestock in China

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Posters promoting the care of companion animals on display in underground train stations in Chengdu

Animals Asia, the well-known animal charity, reported on July 20, 2020, that China was removing dogs from the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources. That means that the sale of dogs for consumption in China is illegal or will depending on when the law is in force. They say that cats were never included in the Livestock Catalogue. So, they, too, at least theoretically, should not be considered as livestock and therefore fit for human consumption. Historically, however, many Chinese believe that cat meat contains medicinal properties notwithstanding the fact that this is essentially superstition without scientific support.

I’m confused. We know that cat and dog meat is flourishing in the south of China. Are these markets closing? Are these businesses shutting down? There are a growing number of animal advocates in China who fight against this obnoxious trade. But because it continues and because it appears to be illegal there is clearly an enforcement problem. Have I missed something? The cat and dog meat markets in the south of China are open for all to see. Surely there is no difficulty in enforcing the law?

Posters promoting the care of companion animals on display in underground train stations in Chengdu

Posters promoting the care of companion animals on display in underground train stations in Chengdu. Photo: Animals Asia

Anyway, the newly published Catalogue is a clear signal that there is an evolving change in attitude by many Chinese citizens towards companion animals. And I have to say it is about time to. Companion animals were never livestock by definition. How could they ever have been listed in that catalogue? The picture on this page is delightful. It shows a campaign of education, as I see it, about how to relate to companion animals. Ultimately, animal welfare comes down to education. A lack of education is the biggest barrier to treating animals respectfully.

There are two other laws which also help to protect dogs namely the Food Safety Law and the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law. The authorities are recognising the mood of Chinese citizens and they want to present to the world a better face. They want to tell the world that they are able to relate to dogs solely as companion animals. Their role is companionship, friendship and entertainment. Their role is not to provide their bodies to feed humans.

A Chinese expert lawyer, Anxiang, stated to Animals Asia in an interview that “Dogs and cats do not meet the statutory requirements of the Food Safety Law and the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law for meat animal products, and related industries are illegal”.

That statement is unequivocal. It is clear to all that dogs and cats should not be considered to be meat for human consumption. He also said that, “the dog meat black industry chain, which was originally operating under the name of the Animal Husbandry Law, has been clearly characterised as illegal”. He stating that the dog meat market is a ‘black’ industry by which I understand to mean it is an illegal industry. This is an admission of difficulties in enforcing this law.

We know that there is a lot of corruption in China. They are not the only country with lots of corruption let’s make that clear. The president of China wants to stamp on corruption but is no doubt struggling with that objective. But corruption leads to difficulties in enforcement.

RELATED: Brilliant: dogs saved from a South Korean dog meat farm by Humane Society

Animals Asia have a well-known actor, Lesley Nicol, as an ambassador. She was interviewed by Jill Robinson MBE and you can see the interview in the video below.

The law states that all markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants that engage in the practice of dog and cat meat are operating illegally and should be closed down.

I wrote recently about the city of Shenzhen in China preparing to ban cat and dog meat. That was a very positive move. You can read about that by clicking on this link.

The world has to thank the charity Animals Asia for fighting for the rights of cats and dogs in China over many years. They are seeing the fruits of their battle. And, too, we have to thank the citizens of China who are animal lovers, who voluntarily fight against the dog and cat meat market. I’ve seen photographs of them stopping lorries carrying dogs or cats to market. They unloaded the lorries. They are packed full of terrified animals. They are rescued by these great people. It’s these kinds of actions by brave people, committed people which gradually erodes the attitude of entrenched views among the leaders of the country.

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