According to a Reuters report recently, “China has drawn up new guidelines to reclassify dogs as pets rather than livestock, the agriculture ministry said. This is part of a response to the coronavirus outbreak that the Humane Society called a potential “game changer” in animal welfare.” The country in recent weeks has also banned the sale of wild animals for food, citing the risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans.

China’s Agricultural Ministry announcement stated, “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.”

According to the report, the draft guidelines published on Wednesday, have listed 18 traditional livestock species–including cattle, pigs, poultry and camels. It also added 13 “special” species that would also be exempt from wild animal trading restrictions, including reindeer, alpaca, pheasants, ostriches and foxes. Dog consumption has become increasingly unpopular in China, and the southern city of Shenzhen became the first to ban it last month.”

However, the Humane Society International, an animal welfare group, estimated that around 10 million dogs a year are still killed in China for meat, including stolen pets. The city of Yulin in the region of Guangxi holds an annual dog meat festival in June. “This draft proposal could signal a game-changer moment for animal protection in China,” said Wendy Higgins, a Humane Society International spokeswoman.

(Ref Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-dogs/china-reclassifies-dogs-as-pets-not-livestock-in-post-virus-regulatory-push-idUSKCN21R1VI?utm_campaign=fullarticle&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=inshorts)

Online US-based news portal, Daily Mail cited the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ statement, “Only the animals officially listed as livestock or poultry can be bred, raised, traded and transported for commercial purposes in China, according to China’s Animal Husbandry Law. This means the proposal can potentially prevent around 10 million dogs being killed for their meat every year in the country.”

This comes as good news for animal activists and environments across the world. Yet, it remains to be seen about how the new ban will be implemented across the country at the grassroot level, where such livestocks are part the local staple diet. Also, the dog meat industry in China alone is estimated to be over worth over US$200 million (unconfirmed). Consequently, shutting down the industry will affect parallel trades in neighboring countries like Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia among others. For now, activists can be relieved as this could also indicate the end of the Yulin festival held annual in June.

(Image Courtesy: Wiki Commons)