China’s agricultural ministry has just reclassified dogs as pets in the country and has removed dogs from the national list of livestock
The new guidelines come as part of the broader nationwide crackdown on the wildlife industry throughout China following the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes after the wild animal trade, namely at wet markets in the country, largely being blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move from the agricultural ministry was welcomed by many conservationists who have long campaigned for greater protections to be put in place dogs, but some have pointed out that legal loopholes for eating dog meat may still exist.
The species listed in the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources list, fall under the jurisdiction of the Animal Husbandry Law, meaning it is currently legal to raise them for food, wool or their fur; dogs have now been removed from this list.
A notice on the ministry’s website said: “There’s a long history of domesticating dogs, in the past they were used for guarding houses, hunting and herding. Now they are raised as pets, for search and rescue, for aiding the blind and have a closer bond to humans.”
Now removed from the livestock list, the measure means that restrictions on the dog meat trade, such as the selling of and serving dog meat as food, will eventually come. Conservationists hope that this means bringing an end to the controversial and cruel annual Yulin city dog meat festival.
Jill Robinson, the founder and CEO of Animals Asia, has said that the organisation is:
“grateful to the authorities for coming to this groundbreaking decision that will now better protect consumer safety and save dogs and cats in the community from the terrible consequences of what has been a largely illegal trade.”
“It’s wonderful to see dogs recognised so positively by the administration in their description. Now, the use of dogs is more diverse, embodying the functions of pet companionship, police search and rescue, accompanying the blind and so on, and their relationship with humans is closer,” she continued
Robinson and the team at Animals Asia have been campaigning for the welfare of animals for over two decades, and have worked closely with the Chinese authorities on many occasions to help advance animal welfare laws in the country: “Over the course of many years we have worked with a number of deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC) on proposals relating to the protection of companion animals, such as the proposed legislation to ban the slaughter and sale of cats and dogs.”
This comes after the Chinese city of Shenzhen became the first to legislate a ban on the trading and consumption of certain animals, including cats and dogs.
Around 10 million dogs and 4 million cats are killed for the consumption of their meat in China; this is, according to Humane Society International (HSI), an animal welfare organisation.
The new updates to the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources list also includes adding a group of 16 new “special species” to the livestock list, which includes reindeer, pheasants, alpacas, ostriches and foxes.
Many have pointed out that adding more species to the directory this contradicts the nation’s attempts to advance their policies on the wildlife trade, and could yet again present itself another loophole to allow some species of animals to be freely traded for consumption, wool or fur.