Looks like China has a new official dog policy—namely that people can no longer raise and trade them for commercial purposes, People reports. "With the progress of the times, people's civilization ideas and eating habits are constantly changing, and some traditional customs about dogs will also change," says a rep for the nation's Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs. That's in sync with the ministry's recent declaration that dogs are no longer considered livestock. Reuters quoted the ministry in April as saying that "along with the progress of human civilization and the public concern and love for animal protection, dogs have been 'specialized' to become companion animals ... and they will not be regulated as livestock in China."
The Humane Society International—which figures 10 million dogs are slaughtered annually in China for meat—appears cautious in embracing the new policy. HSI spokesperson Wendy Higgins tells the Guardian it's a possible "game-changer moment for animal welfare in China," but painted a gloomier picture when talking to the Daily Mail about the city of Yulin's upcoming dog-meat festival, slated for June 21 to 30. "Terrified dogs" will face "bludgeoning and butchery" there, she said: "Experience tells us that many of those dogs will be precisely the beloved companions and helpers and service dogs the national government talked about in its statement as being not for food." Two other cities, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, officially outlawed the consumption of dog and cat meat in April. (Read more dog meat stories.)