China Revises Livestock List to Exclude Dogs in the Wake of Covid19
In a move designed to prevent disease transmission from animals to humans and prioritize animal welfare, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it will no longer treat dogs as livestock to be bred for food, milk, fur or fiber, but as human companions to be cared for and protected.
In a draft policy, the government listed the names of animals it considers livestock species, which is open for public comment until May 8. For the first time, it excluded dogs from the list, which has given animal rights activists hope that a country-wide ban on dog meat is imminent.
“As far as dogs are concerned, along with the progress of human civilisation and the public concern and love for animal protection, dogs have been ‘specialised’ to become companion animals, and internationally are not considered to be livestock, and they will not be regulated as livestock in China,” the policy states.
This announcement doesn’t yet function as a ban on dog meat in the country, Humane Society International (HSI)’s Wendy Higgins told The Guardian. But it could be a “game-changer moment for animal welfare in China,” she said. Addressing the negative stereotype of dog-eating in China that is used as an excuse for racism against the Chinese — one that was amplified after the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world and people started blaming China’s eating habits for the outbreak — Higgins added the policy “signals a major shift, recognizing that most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats and want an end to the theft of their companion animals for a meat trade that only a small percentage of the population indulge in.”
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China has also banned the breeding, trading and consumption of wildlife in light of Covid19, which originated in horseshoe bats and could have passed onto humans in the markets of Wuhan, China. Animal rights activists hope this announcement enables states in China to follow the lead of the city of Shenzhen, which banned the consumption of cat and dog meat in February.
Going one step further, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called upon the rest of the world to reassess its relationship with food animals. “If China can reexamine its relationship with dogs, then the West can reexamine its relationship with chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys. PETA urges everyone to see all animals as the thinking, feeling individuals they are and move toward a vegan world in which people respect life in all its varied forms,” the animal rights organization said in a statement.