China Reclassifies Dogs As Pets Just Before Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
In a huge victory for dogs, China’s agricultural ministry has just removed them from the national list of livestock, and they’ve now been reclassified as pets. This comes just in time to possibly rescue tens of thousands of dogs who may otherwise be killed in celebration of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival during Summer Solstice.

With the removal of dogs as livestock and the reclassification of dogs as pets, the guidelines are part of a more significant crackdown on the Chinese wildlife industry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Animal advocates are thrilled with the news, but some do believe that there are still legal loopholes for dog eating that need to be addressed.

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Dogs have been dropped from the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources and now are classified as pets. This means they are no longer part of the Animal Husbandry Law jurisdiction, which allowed them to be raised for fur, wool or food.

The Ministry’s website noted that dogs are now raised as pets, for search and rescue and for aiding the blind, and recognized the closer bond to humans. As they are no longer on the livestock list, that means there are now restrictions on dog meat trades to come. Animal advocates hope that means that the Yulin Dog Meat Festival will have heavy crackdowns on the selling and serving of dogs as food.

In an article with Green Queen, Jill Robinson said that Animals Asia is grateful for the groundbreaking decision and hopes that it will better protect consumer safety as well as cats and dogs. Robinson is the founder and CEO of Animals Asia, and joins other animal welfare organizations who have campaigned for the protection of animals in China. According to the Humane Society International, 10 million dogs and 4 million cats a year are killed for meat in China.

Robinson has been campaigning for over 20 years to ban the slaughter and sale of cats and dogs, and she’s thrilled with the new steps and guidelines.

Some still worry, though, as the restrictions are placed on restaurants, markets and slaughterhouses, there still is a grey area in that they’ve not been specifically banned from being consumed or raised for meat. They point out that reclassifying dogs doesn’t explicitly ban either of those.

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Additionally, 16 new special species were added to the livestock list. They include: reindeer, alpacas, pheasants, ostriches and foxes. Animal advocates are worried as this could be a loophole that allows animals to be traded freely for food, fur or wool and contradicts the nationwide ban on wildlife trade.

Still, for the first time in a long history, dogs are being classified as pets in China. While there is much work left to do, it’s an incredible first step.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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