Shenzhen, becomes first city to ban cat and dog meat trade

One month ago, it was reported that a city in China’s southern Guangdong province might become the first city in the country to ban in place and making the consumption of dog and cat meat illegal following a food safety legislative proposal. Finally, the innovative law has passed and will be placed into effect on May 1, 2020.


While the law was initially drafted in response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the concern about consuming wildlife, there was also an unrelated ban on the consumption of animals classified as “pets” and it was included in the acknowledgment of their status as companion animals.


A spokesperson for the Shenzhen government said while announcing the ban “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 Hong Kong and Taiwan. This ban also responds to the demand for the spirit of human civilization.”


There are clarifications on what species can be consumed – such as cattle, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, duck, goose, quail and other livestock – along with cats and dogs noticeably absent. On May 1, 2020, the sale of cats and dogs for human consumption will be completely banned throughout the city of Shenzhen.


Dr. Peter Li, a China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International (HSI), welcomed the news, saying, “With Shenzhen taking the historic decision to become mainland China’s first city to ban dog and cat meat consumption, 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. The majority of these companion animals are stolen from people’s back yards or snatched from the streets and are spirited away on the backs of trucks to be beaten to death in slaughterhouses and restaurants across China. Shenzhen is China’s fifth-largest city so although the dog meat trade is fairly small there compared with the rest of the province, its true significance is that it could inspire a domino effect with other cities following suit. Most people in China don’t eat dog or cat meat, and there is considerable opposition to the trade particularly among younger Chinese. Although World Health Organization advice is clear that dogs and cats pose no known coronavirus threat whatsoever, it’s no surprise that attention is turning to this trade at this time because it undoubtedly poses a huge human health risk for other diseases such as rabies, as well as causing immense animal suffering.”


The ban on the consumption of wildlife was hailed as a huge step forward as well. Unlike the temporary ban on wildlife markets and consumption passed by the national government, Shenzhen’s ban is a permanent prohibition on the consumption, breeding, and sale of wildlife such as snakes, lizards, and other wild animals for human consumption – with fines of up 150,000 yuan.