Dogs No Longer Labeled as Livestock in China

On the heels of China’s recent nationwide ban on the consumption of specific wildlife meat, which was done in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the country has now removed dogs from the government’s list of animals that are allowed to be commercially bred and sold. The announcement made on May 30th by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs is in line with another made by China in April to reclassify dogs as companion animals rather than livestock.

THE DETAILS: Although this news does not mean an outright ban on the consumption of dog meat, the distinction now bans the selling of live dogs and dog meat for food, essentially making it illegal for China’s restaurants, markets and slaughterhouses to offer dog meat. This protection also extends to cats, who were never on the livestock list, and follows a similar announcement from the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai who were the first in China to officially ban the consumption of cat and dog meat. 

A CONTROVERSIAL INDUSTRY: This development comes at a very opportune time—in just a few weeks, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is set to begin. It is unclear how the new classification will impact the festival, but it certainly sends a strong message to the dog meat industry that China no longer sanctions the brutality and cruelty of the dog meat trade. The festival is notorious for the violent slaughter of dogs, where the animals are inhumanely butchered, with many beaten and killed while conscious. According to estimates, 10 million dogs and 4 million cats are killed in China every year for meat. And the WHO has warned that the dog meat trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera, providing further evidence of animal agriculture’s role in zoonotic disease spread. 

“With the progress of the times, people’s civilization ideas and eating habits are constantly changing, and some traditional customs about dogs will also change.”

Spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Animal Equality has been campaigning against the dog and cat meat trade, releasing our first investigation into the industry in 2013. However, there is still much more work to be done and as we mentioned, this new classification of dogs in China does not ban their consumption countrywide. Many animals, and both dogs and cats, still suffer on abusive farms in China and around the world. It’s time that we move toward a new normal where all animals are respected and protected and the pandemic risk of factory farming does not exist.