China continues reforms in wake of coronavirus crisis: confirms dogs are pets not meat; Wuhan, Beijing ban eating wildlife

By on June 4, 2020 with 7 Comments

In recent months, China has made rapid progress toward quashing its infamous wildlife and dog meat trades. Last week, we got more good news on this front: China officially confirmed that dogs are pets and are not livestock for eating; and Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, prohibited residents from consuming all wildlife. ​

The declaration that dogs are companions and not livestock, first proposed in April, comes just weeks ahead of the Yulin dog meat festival, which begins June 21st, and where thousands of dogs and cats are killed for their meat each year. We hope this new development will lead to authorities in Yulin reining in—and even putting a complete stop to—this terrible event.

We also hope the declaration will lead China to act swiftly to end the dog and cat meat trade wherever it exists in the nation. Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end.

Unfortunately, the final livestock list issued by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs does include some wild animals, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, who suffer immensely in the fur trade. Keeping these animals in close, confined conditions has been known to increase the risk of zoonotic disease spread. We call on China to reconsider this decision and ensure that all wild animals are kept off the livestock list, and to ban the fur trade as well, if it truly wants to rebrand itself as a nation that cares about global human health and animal welfare.

Wuhan’s ban on eating wild animals now brings up to four the total number of Chinese cities that have announced similar bans. In April, the city of Shenzhen first banned the eating of wildlife and included dogs and cats in its ban. Last week, the city announced a free program for microchipping all of the city’s 220,000 dogs to encourage responsible pet ownership and stop the stealing of dogs for the meat trade. Also last month, the city of Zhuhai adopted a ban on wildlife and dog and meat consumption and the nation’s capital city, Beijing, banned the eating of wildlife.

But while the bans in these other cities are permanent, the ban in Wuhan will only be in place for five years. We are calling on Wuhan to make its ban permanent, because science and history have shown that these markets present great health risk to humans and they need to be closed down in China and elsewhere around the globe where they exist.

We also urge China, which announced a temporary nationwide ban on wildlife consumption in February, to make that ban permanent.

Last month we reported that several provinces in mainland China, including Hunan and Jiangxi, are offering wildlife farmers a buy-out to move away from breeding wild animals for food and transition to alternative livelihoods such as growing fruit, vegetables, tea plants or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine. This plan is similar to the one we have implemented in South Korea, where we have been successfully transitioning farmers out of the dog meat trade and into more humane livelihoods for six years now.

The developments in China are being accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, but they are truly heartening for our Humane Society International team which, along with local partners on the ground, has been sowing the seeds for this transformation in attitudes and practice for years now. We have contributed to public education, met with government officials, assisted with the rescue of dogs and cats bound for slaughter, and brought global attention to China’s dog meat trade by focusing media attention on events like Yulin where companion animals suffer so terribly each year. We have also shone the spotlight on the wildlife trade, which has led to some species of wild animals, including pangolins and tigers, being pushed to the brink of extinction.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that treating animals cruelly can result in disaster for humans, and there hasn’t been a better time to recognize the harm these practices cause and to root them out. The momentum in China shows signs of growing even stronger: at the just concluded annual session of the National People’s Congress, delegates to the national legislature submitted several proposals to outlaw animal cruelty, shut down the wildlife trade, outlaw dog meat trade, ban the online transmission of animal cruelty images and videos and end animal performances. All of this is very promising, and we applaud the nation for moving forward on this important path that will benefit both its people and its animals for generations to come.

Companion Animals, Humane Society International

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya era hora que esa gente aprendiera

  2. Slee says:

    Nothing could be better to hear than a new vision of the natural world by the Chinese . Certainly Asia has preserved the most shocking treatment of animals but the west has work to do as well. It is the time to reach a balance and harmony with the animals that shared this planet with us and give so back much . My hat goes off to the Chinese for acknowledging the problem and working g to resolve it. We have little time left to save the planet and her wild life.

  3. Carlos Quero Valdés says:

    Para quienes hemos estado preocupados de esta tragedia y hemos apoyado y difundido campañas que pedían el fin de este cruel e infame comercio durante mucho tiempo, esta no puede sino ser una increíble noticia, muchas veces la desesperanza y el pesimismo eran más fuertes que la fe y el deseo incontenible de que esto terminara, pero ese día finalmente llegó, es un día histórico para quienes, en todo el mundo, amamos y respetamos a los animales y a estos nobles compañeros de vida en especial, cómo no va ser emocionante enterarnos de que por fin las autoridades de este país han decidido dar el paso definitivo y declarar, como debe ser, que perros y gatos no son comida, y dejar en claro que desde hoy ese maldito comercio no seguirá existiendo… Viví para ver esto, ha valido la pena, entonces, porque es un día con el que siempre soñé, de verdad, gracias a todos quienes lucharon para hacer posible este verdadero milagro, millones sufrieron y murieron por esta horrible tradición a través de largos años, cómo no pensar en ellos con tristeza y pesar, pero como no sentir al mismo tiempo una sensación de alivio y esperanza sabiendo que este infierno terminará, como tanto lo deseamos, una noticia de esas que cambian el mundo, de esas que dan paz y consuelo, gracias de nuevo a todos los que lucharon por esto e hicieron posible que este momento histórico llegará, gracias de todo corazón!

  4. Cc bonty says:

    Thanks so much for saving all those poor beautiful animals from such pain, anxiety, and agony! They just want to be a dog and cat! And live a happy painful life! The Humane Society is such loving people who cherish a Animal life! Keep fighting for all those beautiful creatures and stop the meat consumption everywhere forever!! Much love!!

  5. Lori A. Myers says:

    I think the work you’re doing in China is wonderful because no animal should suffer at the hands of humans and face such unspeakable horrors. I’ve seen many many stories and pictures of beautiful puppies and dogs being saved from the brink of cruelty and death at the hands of China and the Wuhan festival. However, I have yet to see any pictures or proof of those sames rescues for the cats who also suffer inhumane cruelty and death at the hands of those in China. Where are their saviors? Why have we not seen any heartfelt stories of cat rescues? A cat’s life is just as precious as a dog’s and some cats can bring as much joy and companionship to humans as much or more than a dog can, yet they are always second to the dog. They deserve to be rescued right alongside the dogs to find forever homes with someone who will love them.

  6. George says:

    In the interest of health and hygiene, and especially cruelty to animals, I call on the Chinese govn’t to stop the sale and consumption of pets, like cats and dogs. Lets make a safer Chinese society by stopping this unecessary suffering.It’s time to move into the 21st century with more awarness, and above all love for our dearest companions. I have faith in the Chinese govn’t for noticing and stopping the brutal torture of domestic animals, and wildlife. The whole world will be safer from deadly viruses, and possible future outbreaks.

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