Shenzhen bans dog and cat meat trade; first city in mainland China to do so

By on April 2, 2020 with 20 Comments

Shenzhen has become the first city in mainland China to ban the consumption of dog and cat meat, marking one of the biggest wins yet in the global battle to end the dog meat trade.

This is China’s fifth largest city. Although not itself a major center for dog and cat meat consumption, Shenzhen is located in the Guangdong province where the dog and cat meat trade is widespread. A ban here is a powerful affirmation of changing Chinese attitudes toward eating companion animals.

Dogs and cats are not in any way associated with the coronavirus pandemic. But officials in Shenzhen say they decided to include them in a proposed law banning the wildlife trade introduced in February in the wake of the pandemic because of the special status companion animals have in Chinese hearts and homes.

A spokesman for the city ​legislature cited bans on eating dogs, cats and other pets in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, adding that the ban “also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”

A majority of companion animals who end up in the dog meat trade in China are pets, stolen from people’s backyards or snatched from the streets. They are then packed into trucks, destined for slaughterhouses and restaurants where they are beaten to death.

The growing animal protection movement in China over the past four decades and the hard work of China’s animal protectionists has also helped create a radical change in attitudes over dog and cat meat consumption, and it no doubt influenced authorities in Shenzhen when they considered and passed their ban. Photo by Peter J. Li/HSI

The new law in Shenzhen, which will take effect on May 1, will end the sale of cats and dogs for human consumption in restaurants and stores throughout the city. It will also ban the sale of live cats and dogs for consumption in the city’s markets.

The law also covers the consumption, breeding and sale of wildlife such as snakes, lizards and other wild animals for human consumption. Those in violation could face heavy fines of up 200,000 yuan (about $28,000).

This is especially heartening news for us at the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. Ending the global dog and cat meat trade is a priority for us and we are fighting it in several countries where it exists, including South Korea and Indonesia. In China, where an estimated 10 million dogs and four million cats are killed for food each year, we are working alongside local activists to end the trade and raise awareness about the cruelty inherent in it. For the past several years, we have turned the media spotlight on this issue in China and also highlighted the globally condemned annual Yulin dog meat festival where thousands of dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered for food.

The growing animal protection movement in China over the past four decades and the hard work of China’s animal protectionists has also helped create a radical change in attitudes over dog and cat meat consumption, and it no doubt influenced authorities in Shenzhen when they considered and passed their ban.

Most Chinese do not eat dog and cat meat. ​In a nationwide survey sponsored by HSI in 2016, 70% of respondents said they had never eaten dog meat. A significant number of those who answered “yes” had eaten it by accident or had only eaten it once or twice.

The ban in Shenzhen is the strongest sign yet that this trade is on its way out, and we applaud city officials for acting swiftly to pass it. We also hope that more cities and provinces in China will follow Shenzhen’s example and move rapidly to end both the wildlife trade and the dog and cat meat trade. Both cause so much unnecessary animal suffering and have no place in the modern world.


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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya era hora no ven todo el daño que estamos haciendo nuestro planeta por favor tenemos que detener todo el comercio de los animales ilegales para que también ya no sigan sufriendo y no acabemos con nuestro planeta

  2. Francine Kane says:

    What is happening to all the animals now?

  3. Susan Heron-Brown says:

    This heartbreaking virus has been caused by the wet markets and the inhumane way China has been doing this along with South Korea.
    We folks that hear this and see what these country’s do have been pleading with your governments to stop this cruelty. I Think this virus has been sent by God in heaven to stop this horrible abuse of animals. Perhaps you will finally stop the horrible things you do to God’s creatures. They feel the same pain as humans.

    • Robbi F says:

      Amen to that‼️🙏🏻🐾🙏🏻🐾🙏🏻

    • Denise says:

      Totally Agree. Thank God

    • DIANE says:

      Most of what you say is true, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the US is equally as guilty when it comes to abhorrent animal practices and abuse. Plenty to clean up right here in America, the (sometimes not so) beautiful.

      • kendi kim says:

        Animal farming practices in the US are just as cruel and inhumane, and also dangerous — if not more. There is a reason why cows are treated with so much hormones. There is a reason why chicken and beef meat must be dipped and washed in bleach/disinfectant solutions before it can be cooked. But the most inhumane and cruel of all is the fact that US companies KNOWINGLY produce and sell these kinds of “undesirable” products to unthinking consumers, essentially (and literally, sometimes) feeding them “poop” (you know what I was going to say). And the way that these American companies are willing to treat fellow human beings and fellow Americans is what is truly cruel and inhumane.

    • Ashley Lawrence says:

      I agree 100%!!! Well said!!!!!

    • Mary says:

      Absolutely. I agree. I’ve been following the horrific DCMT for 6 yrs. I adopted two JINDO mixes from Nami Kim in South Korea. I hug and kiss them so much and they love it.

      • Patricia McGinly says:

        I have adopted a dear, wonderful blind poodle from China. She arrived on Feb. 2 of this year. She is 7 years old and blind, her name is Sisi. So happy and healthy she is now, I am so grateful for her. She loves her “siblings,” 2 Chiwhawhas from Pennsylvania and Florida, USA. AND 2 kitties. Lots of love in my home!

  4. Tamara Harris says:

    I want to express my relief after reading that the city of Shenzhen is working to end the torture and abuse of dogs and cats in China. I do not understand the cruelty and torture of defenses animals. This isn’t about food production; it’s about animal abuse. My question is why this is kegal? Are all Chinese people heartless to their animals? Please move to end these horrible acts of violence toward defenseless animals. The world is watching.

    • Carolyn Craighead says:

      Hi, Tamara, No – Many Chinese people have pets and adore their pets just as we do. My son (an American,) lived in Shenzhen for 6 years. Shenzhen is an extremely sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, with lots of people from the U.S., Canada and Europe living there. (My son taught English. His first roomates there were German, British, and Russian – an engineer, an IT guy, and a clothing designer, if I recall.) My son married a very sweet Chinese woman, and they lived with her parents for a while before coming here to the U.S. Their family pet (that his wife’s parents had had for years,) was an adored little dog of no particular breed. As the story notes, 70% of Chinese people have never eaten dog, and of those who have many weren’t aware it was dog meat at the time. Frankly, I hate to say it, but this is why I never accept “samples” in mall food courts. Probably paranoid on my part! I’d like to add that many Chinese, esp. of my son’s generation, are totally cat crazy. They love and cherish cats and would be appalled at the thought of eating them. They suffer over these ideas, just as we do.

  5. Ria says:

    I am very happy that at least one city in China stop this cruelty hopefully
    other cities will soon follow now its time to change this horror.
    Wake up call thanks corona

  6. Lydia says:

    Thank you for your efforts to make this legal change happen! Please keep the ball rolling across the globe to protect dogs, cats, horses, and other animals from this tragic fate.

  7. Dairy Is Scary says:

    This is good news. But let’s not be hypocrites. We need to end the exploitation of animals right here in the U.S.A. Watch, like, and share:

  8. Harry Avellaneda says:

    It’s about time the Government stepped in to ban the dog and cat trade. What is wrong with this people that eat anything that moves and that is why we are in this situation. When it comes to animals Chinese people are ruthless and heartless there’s no reason for such terrible abuse this must end immediately.
    We and the entire world is watching the torture of innocent ANIMALS.

  9. Susan Passaro says:

    The virus is shedding a light on these abuses. An actual “silver lining” to all of this. Let’s hold these cities accountable and make sure that they are abiding by the new law. The time is right to go big- go after other countries : Indonesia, S Korea, Thailand, etc. let’s expose it ALL!

  10. Jacqueline Ireland says:

    This is a nice sized step in the right direction. Yulin is the big concern. And I have read that the US actually supplies some helpless animals to China for consumption. I consider all animals as companions. Prayers and actions need to continue to get these countries to stop and lead them to a better and more compassionate way of feeding themselves.

  11. TERRI SANDFORD says:

    CATS are able to be infected with Covid virus !!

  12. Mary says:

    The YULIN festival is a great concern of mine. If Beijing bans dog meat consumption on May 8, will YULIN still be allowed to go ahead with this horrific event?

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