Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban eating cats and dogs

2 April 2020, 16:54

Dog Meat Festival preparations in Yulin, China - June 2015
Dog Meat Festival preparations in Yulin, China - June 2015. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Shenzhen has become the first city in China to ban people from eating cats and dogs, following the coronavirus outbreak.

The city's government announced the order on Wednesday saying it was in response to "the demand and spirit of human civilisation."

It will come into effect on 1 May this year and will include the prohibition of the sale of meat.

The measure comes as part of a larger, nationwide clampdown on the wildlife trade after scientists linked the coronavirus pandemic's origins to wildlife meat.

Some in the first wave of Covid-19 patients had been exposed to the 'wet markets' of Wuhan - more than 600 miles away from Shenzhen - where bats, snakes and other animals are sold.

For all the latest coronavirus news, follow our live blog

Dog Meat Festival in China - June 2014
Dog Meat Festival in China - June 2014. Picture: Getty

Read more: Number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally to exceed one million in coming days

Shenzhen's city government said: "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.”

China's top legislature previously banned the trade and consumption of wild animals throughout the nation in February, with many regions and provinces beginning to enforce the ruling. However, Shenzhen took it one step further by extending it to cats and dogs.

Roughly 30 million dogs are killed for meat every year in Asia, according to Humane Society International (HSI).

Although eating dog meat is practiced across the continent, it is not thought to be overly common in China, with the majority of Chinese people saying they have not and would not eat dog.

Read more: Spain's coronavirus death toll surges past 10,000

Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI, welcomed 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," he said.

Liu Jianping, an official with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said current supplies of livestock, poultry and seafood were enough for consumers.

“There is no evidence showing that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock,” he was quoted as saying by the state-owned media Shenzhen Daily.