Eating dogs and cats–which is an age-old delicacy in China–could soon be against the law.
It’s the nation’s first law against such animal abuse. Currently, dog and cat meat is viewed as promoting bodily warmth. But if the law passes, people who eat either animal could face fines of up to $730 or 15 days in jail. Organizations involved the practice would face fines up to 100-times as much.
“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. “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.”
The law has been in the draft stage for over a year and will be submitted to higher authorities come April. But draft legislation can take years to approve. Drafters at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have been consulting for more than a year with Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the US-based International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Raising cats and dogs for meat remains widespread in China. You’ll often see it advertised as “fragrant meat,” a euphemism for dog. Cat meat is more popular in southern China where activists block trucks carrying thousands of cats to meat markets.
Ending the culinary tradition is going to be difficult even it is passed in to law, as it dates back thousands of years. Dog meat was once considered a medicinal tonic.
“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.
The economic impact of this law would be small as China’s affluent don’t partake in the delicacy. In fact, such traditions have received much scrutiny from affluent, pet-loving, urban middle class. And online petitions against dog and cat consumption have attracted tens of thousands of signatures.
As a vegetarian, this begs the question of why stop at just cats and dogs? What’s the real difference between eating a cow or eating your dog? I’m just saying.