COVID-19: Chinese City bans eating cats and dogs from May 01

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In Summary: A Chinese city bans the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The measure follows the outbreak of coronavirus that was linked to the consumption of wildlife meat. The coronavirus pandemic, first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has so far killed over 300,000 people and infected more than three million around the world. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese authorities have banned the trade and consumption of wild animals. Humane Society International (HSI) states that thirty million dogs and four million cats are killed and eaten annually across Asia with China accounting for one-third of this figure. But now, Shenzhen city becomes the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The ban takes effect on May 01, 2020. Will other cities follow suit?

“Most Chinese people don't consume dogs and cats and do not plan to do so”. (Getty Images)

Shenzhen, China--Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The ban comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting Chinese authorities to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, over 200,000 people have been killed with more than three million infected around the world.

The city of Shenzhen has gone a step further, extending the ban to dogs and cats. The new law will come into force on May 01, 2020. Thirty million dogs a year are killed across Asia for meat, says Humane Society International (HSI). However, the practice of eating dog meat in China is not that common - the majority of Chinese people have never done so and say they don't want to.

"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," the Shenzhen city government said, according to a Reuters report early this month. "This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization."

Dr Peter Li, Associate Professor at the University of Houston, Texas and a China Policy Specialist for the Humane Society International

Animal advocacy organisation HSI praised the 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," said Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for HIS and an associate professor at the University of Houston, Texas.

However, at the same time as the announcement of the ban, China approved the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients. Bear bile - a digestive fluid drained from living captive bears - has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. The active ingredient, ursodeoxycholic acid, is used to dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. But there is no proof that it is effective against the coronavirus and the process is painful and distressing for the animals

Chinese workers collect bile from a caged bear at a farm in Fujian province. Beijing is promoting the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients. (AFP)

Brian Daly, a spokesman for the Animals Asia Foundation, told AFP: "We shouldn't be relying on wildlife products like bear bile as the solution to combat a deadly virus that appears to have originated from wildlife."

A wildlife market

In February, Chinese authorities banned the trade and consumption of wild animals. The move came after it emerged that a market in Wuhan selling wild animals and wildlife meat could have been the starting point for the outbreak of the new coronavirus, providing the means for the virus to travel from animals to humans.

News of this led the Chinese government to crack down strongly on the trade and on the markets that sold such products.

File photo of the many wet markets in China (Getty Images)

There are now over three million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and nearly 300,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In China alone, there are over 81,589 confirmed cases and nearly 10,000 deaths, said the National Health Commission.

Scientists and researchers are still mauling over the multiple findings of the specific source of the virus and how it could have spread to humans.

But after the ban of  eating dogs and cats in Shenzhen, will other cities in China follow suit?

Source: BBC News

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