Tuesday, February 2, 2010
China May Officially Ban Cats & Dogs from Menus
Dogs on their way to the butcher/Photo ReutersAfter more than 11 years of debate, the Chinese government has proposed a new animal protection law under which, at least officially, dogs and cats will no longer be allowed to be eaten.
The new law, if enacted, would forbid any form of animal abuse. The proposed law also specifically makes it illegal to buy, sell or eat dog and cat meat. Individuals who break the law would be fined 5,000RMB (about $730US) and face up to 15 days in jail. Moreover, restaurants could be fined up to 500,000RMB ($73,000US). It would also mean the shutdown of thousands of dog butchers and eateries. The law provides for a hotline to denounce violators.
Difficulties remain however as most Chinese have been unaccepting of animal protection laws. The Animal Protection Law Project recently conducted a four-month poll to test Chinese citizens' reaction to the proposed law. According to the organization, the results were not encouraging as the vast majority of those polled stated that they could not accept animal protection laws or animal welfare. One person responded: “Why isn't there a law to protect vegetables also? Rice eaters should be fined RMB 5,000 and go to jail for 15 days.”
Chinese have been eating dog meat, known as "fragrant meat", for thousand of years. In the North, where winters are bitterly cold, dog stew is a popular dish to warm a person. Meanwhile, cat meat has been increasing in popularity in the South, where a dish combining cat and snake meat (known as Dragon and Tiger in battle) is particularly popular.
Leading the charge against animal cruelty, and dog and cat meat eating, is a growing affluent middle-class which has begun to "own" pets. Protesters frequently picket markets selling dog meat. Nevertheless, Xin Chunying, Deputy Director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (The National People's Congress is China's central government. The Standing Committee is the de facto legislative body with constitutional authority to modify legislation), expressed doubts that any animal protection law was needed.
In a system which most often takes years to discuss and enact laws, there is no telling when the law will be enacted if ever.
For more info: Photo: www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/2975936836/; EcoStar Law, PLLC:www.ecostarlaw.com.