Dog & Cat Meat Off the Menu in China?

Animal lovers engaged in fierce fight against dog and cat eaters in China.

ByABC News
January 28, 2010, 10:03 AM

BEIJING, Jan. 28, 2010 — -- Animal rights advocates and animal lovers in China are engaged in a battle with those who consider eating dog or cat meat a traditional custom in Chinese culture.

The focus of contention is a legislative proposal to outlaw the eating of dogs and cats and jail those who do so for up to 15 days. Fines would also be imposed – 5,000 yuan ($735) for individuals and 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,470 to $73,529) for businesses.

It is the first time in China that a draft law on animal rights has been presented to the government. The legislation was drafted by a team of Chinese experts who consulted with the U.S.-based International Fund for Animal Welfare and Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A preview of the legislative battle is being waged in the Chinese media and internet chat rooms between those who have become aware of the need to protect man's best friends and those who view these animals as part of their traditional menu.

An informal online poll in the popular Chinese Web site already attracted more than 178,000 votes as of today. Some 56.8 percent voted in favor of the ban on eating dog and cat meat while 39.6 percent were against it.

A Beijing netizen wrote in support, "Cats and dogs are our favorite pets, they are entitled to their own rights, why should people eat them?"

"The ban represents an advance to a higher stage of civilization," expressed another supporter.

An opponent of the ban wrote, "If it is the tradition of some provinces to eat dogs, why should they change their ways just to satisfy the West?"

Another opposing netizen said, "It's just like a dog chasing a rat, it's purely copying the Western model."

While eating dog or cat meat is viewed as a taboo in the West, the practice has become ingrained in the local culture of some regions in China.