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Update: Chinese Ministry of Agriculture Bans Commercial Dog and Cat Meat – Focus Shifts to Enforcement

ANIMAL RIGHTS-In April, CityWatch reported that the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture issued draft guidelines declaring that dogs are pets, not to be eaten. See “Chinese May Declare Dogs Are Pets and Not for Eating – Let Them Know You Agree.”  

The draft guidelines were open for public comment until May 8. There was opposition from those involved in the dog meat trade as well as support for the draft guidelines from animal welfare activists.

See, e.g., KoreanDogs.org, “China Dogs Are Not for Eating.”   

On May 29, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture released the latest version of the Directory of Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry. Dogs and cats are not on the list of animals that can be bred, raised, traded, or transported for commercial purposes, meaning that the commercial dog meat trade is no longer legal in China. (Cats were previously not listed, although there were still commercial sales of cats for consumption, because of lack of enforcement.) 

The Agriculture Ministry stated: "With the progress of the times, people's understanding of civilization and eating habits are constantly changing, and some traditional customs about dogs will also change.” The Ministry indicated that it would be releasing additional policies regarding dogs in the future. The step taken by the Ministry yesterday may not ban the eating of a person’s own dog; it bans the commercial dog meat trade. Perhaps the Ministry is considering an outright ban on dog consumption, which should be encouraged both on a local and national level. 

In April, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai became the first to completely ban the consumption of dog and cat meat. See “Chinese City of Shenzhen Bans Eating Dog and Cat Meat.”   

Other cities in China should follow the humane lead of Shenzhen and Zhuhai. 

In past years, ten to twenty million dogs have been brutally tortured, killed, and eaten annually in China. The dogs are kept in cramped, rusty cages stacked on top of each other. Many of the dogs are stolen pets. They are slaughtered in brutal ways such as hanging, electrocution, and beating with sticks due to an erroneous belief that high adrenaline levels will produce tender meat and increase the supposed health benefits of consuming dog. Dogs are often tortured and killed in front of other dogs who are awaiting their deaths. The Ministry of Agriculture’s action should put an end to the commercial slaughter. 

A major test of the new Agriculture Ministry regulations will be during the period from June 21 to 30, which is the scheduled date for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.  According to Humane Society International, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival was created in 2010 in an effort to boost flagging dog meat sales. Thousands of dogs are brutally mistreated, killed and eaten each year at the festival.  See Humane Society International.  

I have not yet seen an announcement regarding whether the organizers plan to cancel or proceed with the festival this year. Presumably, the festival would be in violation of the Agriculture Ministry’s regulations. Stay tuned to CityWatch for developments regarding Yulin. 

Thank you to everyone, both inside and outside of China, who have worked so hard to save the lives and stop the torture of dogs in China. Next is South Korea.   

For previous developments in the battle to ban the dog meat trade, please click here.  

(Jeffrey Mausner (see https://mausnerlaw.com/ ) is the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils Liaison to the Los Angeles Animal Services Department, a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate, 2nd Vice President of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council and Chair of its Animal Welfare Committee, and a Volunteer at the West Valley Animal Shelter. He is a retired attorney and law school professor and was formerly a Federal Prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.