A city in China has drafted a law to ban residents from eating dog meat to improve food safety in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Animal activists have demanded the Chinese government prohibit the consumption of dogs for years.
If this proposal from Shenzhen gets passed, it will be the first of its kind in the country.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is one of the most controversial food festivals in China and sees thousands of dogs cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the locals.
Apart from dogs, the proposed act bars snake, frog and turtle meat from the dinner table.
The news comes after China banned all trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the country’s deadly virus epidemic.
Lawmakers from Shenzhen, a city of around 13 million people, published the proposal yesterday on its government’s website.
They are currently waiting for feedback from the public before signing it into law.
The officials described the regulation as the ‘universal civilization requirement of modern society’.
They said they had considered the city’s practical situation before including the extra animal species, which are not wildlife. The aim is to ‘further satisfy the daily needs of the people’.
According to the document, nine types of livestock are suitable for people to eat. They are pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.
Residents are also allowed to dine on aquatic animals permitted by law.
Commenting on the necessity for the government to create ‘a white list’, one spokesperson said the authority wanted to make it easier for people to know what can be eaten.
‘There are so many animal species in nature. In our country alone, there are more than 2,000 kinds of protected wild animal species.
‘If the local authority is to produce a list of the wild animals that cannot be eaten, it will be too lengthy and cannot answer the question exactly what animals can be eaten,’ the official said.
China’s top legislative committee on Monday passed new legislation to ban all trade and consumption of wild animals.
Beijing is yet to revise its wild animal protection law, but the passage of the proposal was ‘essential’ and ‘urgent’ in helping the country win its war against the epidemic, wrote state newspaper People’s Daily.
The exact source of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, remains unconfirmed. Scientists speculate that it originated in bats, snakes, pangolins, or some other animal.
In China alone, the health crisis has claimed at least 2,715 lives and infected more than 78,000 people.
And globally, at least 2,771 people have died and more than 81,250 have contracted the disease.
Experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved that humans caught the virus from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market.
Conservationists accuse China of tolerating a shadowy trade in exotic animals for food or use in traditional medicines whose efficacy is not confirmed by science.
Scientists say SARS likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civets.
The virus, known as SARS CoV, killed 775 people and infected more than 8,000 globally during an epidemic between 2002 and 2003.
Civets, a cat-like creature, were among dozens of species listed as for sale by one of the merchants at the Wuhan market according to a price list that circulated on China’s internet.
Other items included rats, snakes, giant salamanders, and live wolf pups.
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