China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made its statement official that dogs and cats are companions, not “animals” to eat. For the first time in history, China classifies them as pets.
This decision was expected to be final for months and as such, China is saying goodbye to the Yulin Festival.
But there is a dark point that can allow the law to be circumvented, while allowing eating that type of meat.
The Ministry of Agriculture has just updated its Directory of Genetic Resources for Livestock and Agriculture, eliminating dogs and cats from the list of edible animals, classifying them as pets.
The story began on April 8 with the introduction of a project in the national edible animal directory. There, for the first time, dogs and cats did not appear on the list of 31 animals classified for consumption, however, it was not a binding document, but only a public consultation aimed at understanding the position of Chinese citizens on this matter. .
The consultation was closed on May 8 and the new directory was officially launched on Friday the 29th.
The list lists 17 traditional animal species, including cattle, pig, poultry, rabbit, and camel, and added 16 "special species," including reindeer, alpacas, pheasants, ostriches, and foxes. These species are under the jurisdiction of zootechnical law, which means that it is legal to breed them for food, wool or leather.
The new regulation, which also lists "special species" that can be bred for food or leather, is part of the movement to suppress the trade in wild animals after the coronavirus pandemic, but it also served to reclassify dogs and cats as pets and not as food
The move came at a crucial moment, that is, three weeks before the Yulin Festival.
“There is a long history of domestication of dogs, in the past they were used to protect houses, hunt and reproduce. Now they are raised as pets, for search and rescue, to help the blind and to have a closer bond with human beings ”, explain the Chinese authorities.
"As time goes by, ideas of civilization and eating habits are constantly changing, and some traditional customs about dogs will also change."
However, the reclassification does not explicitly prohibit eating dogs or raising them for slaughter, which could put the trade in these animals in a strange legal situation. People wishing to breed dogs for other purposes, such as working animals, will need to obtain permission from the local authorities.
It is not clear how the rules of the Ministry of Agriculture will be applied. In addition, the lack of specific laws against animal violence could unleash a new wave of crimes, with theft and the killing of dogs.
Humane Society International estimates that around 10 million dogs are killed each year by the dog meat trade in China:
"This now represents the perfect opportunity for Chinese cities to act on the government's words, protecting dogs and cats from thieves and slaughterhouses in the meat trade," said Wendy Higgins, a spokeswoman for the group.
According to a survey conducted by Humane Society International in 2016, the majority of citizens in China do not eat dogs, and about 64% of them are in favor of abolishing the Yulin Festival.
Of course, this represents an advance towards a globalized culture, where dogs and cats are considered as pets and are not considered as food. But everything is still a matter of habit. Although the Yulin Festival is truly horrible and cruel, the farms and slaughterhouses of oxen, cows, chickens and pigs are no less cruel. All animals are sentient beings. Everyone should be friends, not food.
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