A Chinese city has banned the dog and cat meat trade amid the coronavirus crisis.
Shenzhen passed the law prohibiting the consumption and production of dog and cat flesh.
The city went further than the Government’s temporary closure of ‘wet markets’, where animals are sold, by permanently stopping the brutal trade.
The Covid-19 outbreak is believed to have started at the a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, China.
The law is set to come into effect on May 1, the Daily Star reports.
A spokesman for the city’s government said: “Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”
The legislation also clarifies with species are permitted to be consumed, including pig, cattle, sheep, rabbit, and chicken.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for animal protection charity Humane Society International, welcomed the news.
He said: “With Shenzhen taking the historic decision to become mainland China’s first city to ban dog and cat meat consumption, this really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year.
(Image: Corbis via Getty Images)
The majority of these companion animals are stolen from people’s back yards or snatched from the streets, and are spirited away on the backs of trucks to be beaten to death in slaughterhouses and restaurants across China.
“Shenzhen is China’s fifth-largest city so although the dog meat trade is fairly small there compared with the rest of the province, its true significance is that it could inspire a domino effect with other cities following suit.”
Dr Teresa M. Telecky, vice president of the wildlife department for Humane Society International, added: “Shenzhen is the first city in the world to take the lessons learned from this pandemic seriously and make the changes needed to avoid another pandemic.
“People around the world are suffering the impact of this pandemic because of one thing: the wildlife trade.”
The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan – believed by many to be the epicentre of the virus’ spread – was shut down in January after a cluster of patients came down with mystery pneumonia there.
Vendors sold a raft of animals including chickens, badgers, bamboo rats, hedgehogs, and snakes – often slaughtered in front of customers.
Researchers believe bats were the original host of the virus, and may have infected other animals sold at the market.