China to Ban Eating Dogs, Cats
First animal abuse law will take dogs, cats off the menu
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2010 2:07 AM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2010 6:06 AM CST
Dogs wait to be slaughtered at the Xinyuan wild animal market in Guangzhou, China.    (Getty Images)

(Newser) – China plans to end thousands of years of culinary tradition by taking dogs and cat meat off its menu. A law being drafted against animal abuse—China's first—calls for the country's thousands of dog butchers and dog meat restaurants to be closed down. Stiff fines will be imposed on anybody caught eating dog or cat meat, the Times of London reports.

The debate over eating dogs and cats has sparked fierce disagreements between the affluent, pet-owning middle classes and sticklers for traditional values. Dog meat is a traditional winter dish and practitioners of Chinese medicine extol its health benefits. Cat meat is less widely eaten—largely due to a superstition that holds the cat will return by night to seek vengeance—although it remains popular among the famously omnivorous residents of Guangdong province.