Chinese police act against illicit meat trade

The dog and cat meat trade has developed into a well-segmented industry that consists of stealing, collecting, shipping, slaughtering and selling of the final products.

Dogs are locked inside a cage at Yangfang Town in Beijing's Changping District

A suspected illegal meat distribution in the northern suburban Changping District of Beijing was raided by the police over the weekend. A total of 34 dogs of various breeds were confiscated, including one with an identification chip.

Yangfang Township police worked with local animal welfare groups to rescue animals and took them to a municipal shelter.

According to surveys and media reports over the past two years, the dog and cat meat trade has developed into a well-segmented industry that consists of stealing, collecting, shipping, slaughtering and selling of the final products such as meat and fur.

As public concerns grew over the whereabouts of the unquarantined animal products and its potential threat to food safety, China's law enforcement has been battling against the illicit dog and cat meat trade nationwide.

Nationwide effort to end illegal trade chain

Earlier this month, the police closed down a holding site for stolen pet dogs in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China. More than 30 dogs were handed over to Qiming Animal Protection Center - a local charity - where they were reunited with their owners or adopted.

The charity's executives told Xinhua that the site was well-known as a depository for stolen pets before killing the animals and selling the meat.

In July, a truckload of 200 cats and more than 100 dogs was intercepted by the police in Zhuzhou, in the central province of Hunan. The driver was fined 2,000 yuan (300 dollars).

On August 7, a group of 24 suspected dog thieves were prosecuted in Anhui Province, eastern China for producing and selling toxic or hazardous food, theft and hiding or concealing the proceeds, said the prosecutor's statement.

According to Chinese law, those producing and selling toxic or hazardous food can face the death penalty. Stealing pets and working animals, as well as unlicensed keeping of dogs of unknown origins are felonies.

Unlawful practices involved in the meat trade such as trading, transporting, butchering unquarantined animals and processing and commercializing of the meat, are being tackled by various law enforcement departments including husbandry quarantine, food safety supervision and market regulators.

Strengthening laws and regulations

From food safety to social stability, every link in the illegal meat trade chain breaks the law, said An Xiang, co-founder of Beijing Dexiang Law Firm.

In 2015, a new Food Safety Law came into force, establishing higher standards for ensuring public health and safety.

Consuming illegal dog and cat meat could bring severe health risks, said Dr. Liu Lang, of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Association of Veterinarians of China.

In June, the Ministry of Agriculture decided to improve quarantine provisions regarding dogs and cats and tighten certification to combat the undocumented transport of unquarantined animals.

The Ministry said it will improve quarantine in response to a national legislator's suggestion on ending this kind of meat trade.

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