According to the Guardian, a UK newspaper, Chinese legal experts are proposing a ban on eating dogs and cats in a contentious move to end a culinary tradition dating back thousands of years. The recommen-dation will be submitted to higher authorities in April as part of a draft bill to tackle animal abuse.
(Picture: AP - Caged cats rescued by China Small Animal Protection Association from a market in Beijing)
According to the draft, illegal sale or consumption of pets would incur a maximum penalty of 15 days in prison for individuals or a 500,000 yuan fine for businesses. Public security bureaus would be obliged to respond to hotline calls from the public about violations.
"We are proposing that all dog and cat eating should be banned because it is causing many social problems," said Chang Jiwen, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who heads the drafting team. He said recent murders and thefts related to the dog meat trade showed that it had become a source of tension, while the economic impact of a ban would be small because an increasingly affluent population was less dependent on dog and cat meat.
"I support this proposal. Whether you judge this as a question of food security or emotions, there is absolutely no necessity in China for people to eat dogs and cats," said Zeng Li, the founder of the Lucky Cats shelter in Beijing. "We need something more than moral pressure. Beijing's dog restaurants get their meat mainly from vagrant and stolen dogs. In the suburbs, dogs are hung and slaughtered in front of buyers."
Despite large support of such a bill, previously proposed bills regarding animal welfare provoked controversy. Initial plans for a comprehensive animal welfare law had to be dropped in the face of criticism that human living conditions ought to be the priority at this stage in China's development. Subsequently, the focus of a bill has now been narrowed to the prevention of animal abuse, which is defined as inflicting unnecessary pain and brutality. Even so, it is far from certain that the draft will be adopted by the government or the National People's Congress.