Cat and dog meat could soon be off the menu in China as first animal abuse law edges closerDog and cat meat could soon be banned from restaurants in China, ending thousands of years of tradition, following protests from animal rights campaigners.
The Chinese government is now on the verge of introducing its first law against animal abuse and permanently removing both animals from the menu.
The first draft of the law, aiming to protect animals from being hurt and killed in a cruel manner, will be raised for legislation in April.
Pet lovers' associations have sprung up in Chinese cities over recent years, with one liberation group last year ramming a truck full of caged cats to rescue them from being shipped to southern restaurants.
While many Chinese enjoy rich dog meat, especially during cold winters, some object to the practice in some regions of beating dogs to death to release the blood into the meat.
The China National Native Produce & Animal By-Products Import and Export Corporation backed the initiative, which it believes will improve overseas perceptions of Chinese exports.
Others insisted a ban on dog and cat meat was unrealistic.
'Banning such custom by law is inappropriate and unable to work,' said Xu Huiqiang, chief of wild animal protection in Jiangsu province, where a dog meat recipe has been listed as a piece of cultural heritage.
An official of Leping, a city that has a traditional catering industry based on dog meat, said that the local economy and people's lives would be terribly hurt by such a law.
'Cooking them alive must be punished but which meat to eat should be people's own choice,' said a commentary on Xinhua Daily in Nanjing. 'Some people in China still can't afford meat. We should not blindly copy Western values.'
But one online protester named 'Yuxiang999' posted on Xinhuanet.com: 'Eating cats and dogs is a shameless barbarian thing. Anyone with humanity would not kill these loyal friends of ours.'