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Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs

This move comes after China, in February, passed a law banning the consumption of wild animals following the devastating novel Coronavirus outbreak.

Cover Image Source: Dogs wears signs hanging around their necks and walk as animal rights activists protest against eating dog and cat on October 4, 2006, in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
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Shenzhen, in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The government announced on Thursday that under new rules which will come into effect on May 1, it will be illegal to eat animals raised as household pets. This move comes after China passed a law in February banning the consumption of wild animals following the devastating novel Coronavirus outbreak. Shenzhen took the ban a step further by prohibiting the consumption of pets like cats and dogs in addition to state-protected wild animals, other terrestrial wild animals that are taken from the wild, as well a captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species.

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According to CNN, animals that aren't prohibited for consumption and sale under the new laws include pig, cattle, sheep, donkey, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, and aquatic animals that aren't banned by other laws or regulations. "If convicted, they will be subjected to a fine of 30 times of the wild animal's value, if the animal is above the value of 10,000CNY [$1400 USD]," authorities warned.

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The Humane Society International (HSI) informed BBC that about thirty million dogs are killed every year across Asia for meat. In China, however, the practice of eating dog meat isn't common with a majority claiming to have never consumed it and that they have no plans of doing so. "Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan," the Shenzhen city government reportedly said. "This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization."

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According to The Week, Liu Jianping—an official with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control—was quoted as having said that the poultry, livestock, and seafood available to citizens are sufficient for consumption and that there was no evidence that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock. The animal advocacy organization HSI praised the Shenzhen government's move. "This really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year," said Dr. Peter Li, China policy specialist for the organization.

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Meanwhile, China drew fresh criticism for the use of bear bile—a digestive fluid drained from living captive bears—to treat coronavirus patients. Traditional Chines medicine has long implemented the usage of bear bile to dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. However, there is no proof that it is effective against the novel coronavirus and the usage is being widely condemned as the process of extracting the fluid is painful and distressing for the animals. Brian Daly, a spokesman for the Animals Asia Foundation, said: "We shouldn't be relying on wildlife products like bear bile as the solution to combat a deadly virus that appears to have originated from wildlife."

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As countless reports have stated to date, the Coronavirus pandemic started at a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, forcing authorities to acknowledge the need to bring the lucrative wildlife industry under control to prevent any more potential outbreaks. Unfortunately, bringing the trade to a complete halt will prove quite difficult for authorities as China's use of wild animals run deep in its culture. Chinese officials learned this the hard way when they banned civets—mongoose-type creatures—in 2003 after learning that the animals likely transferred the SARS virus to humans. The selling and consumption of snakes were also briefly banned in Guangzhou following the SARS outbreak but today dishes using the animals are still eaten in parts of the country. 

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