The Chinese city of Shenzhen has banned the consumption of dogs and cats as part of a wider crackdown on wildlife trade since the emergence of the new coronavirus.
Scientists suspect coronavirus transmitted to humans by animals. Some of the earliest infections were detected in people exposed to a wildlife market in central Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets, and other animals were sold.
The disease has infected more than 935,000 people worldwide and killed approximately 47,000.
Authorities at the South China Technology Center said the ban on eating dogs and cats would come into effect on May 1.
“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and the ban on the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, “said the city government in an order released Wednesday.
“This ban also meets the demand and the spirit of human civilization.”
China’s highest legislature said in late February that it would ban the trade and consumption of wild animals.
Provincial and municipal governments across the country have taken steps to enforce the ruling, but Shenzhen has been most vocal about extending the ban to dogs and cats.
Dogs, in particular, are consumed in several parts of Asia.
Liu Jianping, an official with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said there was enough poultry, livestock and seafood available to consumers.
“There is no evidence that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock,” said Liu, quoted by the public media Shenzhen Daily.
The initial Shenzhen rules, first proposed in late February, appeared to prohibit the consumption of turtles and frogs – two common dishes in southern China.
But the city government admitted this week that it had been “a hot spot of controversy” and said the two could be eaten.
The city’s campaign to stop eating wildlife has been hailed by animal welfare groups.
“Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and to make the necessary changes to prevent another pandemic,” said Teresa M. Telecky, vice-chair of the Humane Society’s wildlife department. International.
“Shenzhen’s bold measures to stop this trade and the consumption of wildlife are a model for governments around the world to follow. “