Shenzhen has completely banned the sale and consumption of cat and dog meat, the first city in China to take this step.
On the 25th of February, the Standing Committee of the Shenzhen People’s Congress released a draft of the “Ordinance on the Complete Ban on the Consumption of Wild Animals in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone” to gather public feedback. After the end of the one-month period to collect feedback, the final version of the ordinance was officially passed on the 31st of March, and will come into force on the 1st of May.
Many have been delighted to find that cat and dog meat are included among the kinds of meat that are banned by the new ordinance. On the 1st of April, an official WeChat account belonging to the Shenzhen government published a clarification of the new rules, in which it explained that banning the consumption of cats and dogs “is a requirement and embodiment of modern human civilization”, and reflects the practice of developed countries. It was also pointed out that “as pets, dogs and cats have established a closer relationship with humans than any other animals”.
The consumption of dog meat has never been particularly widespread, but it is still practiced in certain areas of the country. Over the last few years this issue has become a focus for animal-rights activists, with the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, held annually in the Guangxi town of Yulin, encountering strong opposition. Shenzhen’s ban can probably best be seen as one of the fallouts from the COVID-19 outbreak, which has already led to a nationwide ban on the consumption of bushmeat and the sale of wildlife for meat consumption at wet markets.