China unveils new list of animals that can be farmed for meat, dogs now classified as companion animals

Dogs have finally been upgraded from livestock to pets in China.

Quartz reports in a newly published list of animals categorized as livestock in China, the country’s agriculture ministry made a surprising announcement tucked away at the bottom of the policy document: dogs are no longer to be treated as mere livestock, but as loyal companions.

“Alongside the development of human civilization and the public’s care toward protecting animals, dogs have now evolved from being traditional livestock to companion animals,” the notice dated April, adding that dogs aren’t typically regarded as livestock worldwide.

The official announcement follows on the heels of February’s nationwide ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife in China. The country’s top legislature fast-tracked the enactment of the ban in large part due to widespread suspicions that the Covid-19 outbreak stemmed from a novel coronavirus being transmitted from wild animals to humans.

Those suspicions arose because some of the early confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, had exposure to the Huanan seafood wholesale market, where live animals were on sale. In fact, initial diagnostic guidelines established by China’s national health commission stipulated that Covid-19 patients needed to have an epidemiological link to Wuhan or a wet market in the city.

ABC News reports the Chinese government released a new list of animals that can be farmed for meat as the country begins to reopen to a new normal following the novel coronavirus outbreak that is thought to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan.

The draft list was released Thursday by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and is available online for a public comment period.

The list of acceptable livestock and poultry includes 18 species of traditional staples such as pig, cow, chicken, sheep, goat and more.

The government document also designates 13 species of “special livestock” such as deer, reindeer, alpaca and others.

It also includes a special category of livestock that can be raised for fur but not for food including mink, foxes and raccoons.

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs noted in a statement accompanying the list that dogs “have been ‘specialized’ from traditional domestic animals to companion animals” and should not be included as “livestock” for food.