China officially confirms dogs as companions, not “livestock” weeks before Yulin dog meat festival

Yvonne O'Halloran

China’s Ministry of Agriculture has made an official declaration that dogs are companions and not “livestock” just weeks before the infamous Yulin dog meat festival where thousands of dogs are brutally butchered, skinned and cooked with blow torches.

The announcement came just 2 days ago when the ministry published its Final Directory of Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry, where it detailed why dogs are not included on the livestock list. The document states:

With progress in human civilisation and the attention and preferences of the public with regard to protection of animals, dogs have from traditional domestic animals become “specialised” as companion animals. Internationally, they are generally not regarded as livestock, and it would be inappropriate for China to list them as livestock.

A government spokesperson stated that dogs have long been domesticated as “companions” and “pets” who guard the family home; act as search and rescue animals for polices and assist those with visual impairment.

Around 30 million dogs a year are killed in Asia for human consumption. It is estimated that around 10 million dogs are killed in China every year for China’s dog meat trade. The World Health Organisation warns that the dog meat trade can spread rabies and increase the risk of cholera.

Though this is good news for dogs, the finalised livestock list includes almost all the animal species published in an earlier draft proposal. A number of wild animals are now officially declared “livestock” such as sika deer, red deer, reindeer, alpaca, guinea-fowl, ring-necked pheasant, partridge, mallard, ostrich, and the three most commonly farmed wild species for China’s fur trade – raccoon dog, silver fox and mink. A separate list of aquatic species is expected to follow.

Dr Teresa Telecky, vice president of wildlife at HSI, says: “The inclusion of wild animal species such as foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, on the finalised livestock list is highly regrettable. Intensively farming these animals in commercial captive breeding environments presents insurmountable welfare challenges as well as potential human health risks from zoonotic diseases. It is self-defeating to close wildlife markets on the one hand while on the other sanctioning the rearing of millions of wild animals in overcrowded and stressful conditions. Rebranding them as livestock instead of the wildlife that they truly are, doesn’t remove the risk to humans or the suffering of those animals. We strongly hope that China removes these species when the list is next reviewed.”

WARNING: The below link is extremely graphic.

To learn more about the horrors of the Yulin dog meat festival click here.

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