İrem UZUN -TDO- The Chinese city of Shenzhen has banned the eating of dogs and cats as part of a wider clampdown on the wildlife trade since the emergence of the new coronavirus. Scientists suspect the coronavirus passed to humans from animals. Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to a wildlife market in the central city of Wuhan, where bats, snakes, civets and other animals were sold. The new law will come into force on 1 May.
Provincial and city governments across the country have been moving to enforce the ruling but Shenzhen has been the most explicit about extending that ban to dogs and cats. Dogs, in particular, are eaten in several parts of Asia. Thirty million dogs a year are killed across Asia for meat, says Humane Society International (HSI). However, the practice of eating dog meat in China is not that common - the majority of Chinese people have never done so and say they don't want to. "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," the Shenzhen city government said, according to a Reuters report. "This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization."
The city's campaign to stop the eating of wildlife has won praise from animal welfare groups. "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," said Teresa M. Telecky, the vice president of the wildlife department for HSI. "Shenzhen’s bold steps to stop this trade and wildlife consumption is a model for governments around the world to emulate," she added.