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China Announces New Rules That Classify Dogs as Pets, Not Food, Citing “Progress of Civilization”

The draft guidelines cited “the progress of human civilization and the public’s concern and preference for animal protection” as reason for the change.

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(TMU) — China is taking steps toward officially banning the trade of dog meat, potentially saving millions of dogs from being slaughtered every year.

A new draft being considered by the Chinese government stipulates that dogs should be treated as companions and not as livestock.

In a statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural affairs published April 8, the move to reclassify canines as pets is described as a move consistent with modern culture in a country where many old cultural traditions remain despite the rapid sociocultural transformations the country has undergone over the past few decades.

The ministry explained:

“With the progress of human civilization and the public’s concern and preference for animal protection, dogs have changed from traditional domestic animals to companion animals. Dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world, and China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry.”

Under local customs and traditional Chinese medicine practices, dog meat is seen as nutritious and helps to protect people from common summertime diseases. The practice is hardly common in China, with the majority of Chinese citizens having never tried dog meat and rejecting the idea of doing so, reports Global Times.

Livestock animals are defined as those that can be bred for food, milk, fur, leather, medicine, and other commodities.

While the ministry has said that the draft law has nothing to do with the consumption of dog meat, analysts and advocates have greeted the measure.

Animal rights NGO the Humane Society International hailed the draft as a “potential game-changer” for animal welfare. Rights advocates estimate that at last 10 million dogs are slaughtered in China for meat every year, including many stolen pets.

Humane Society International director Wendy Higgins described the move as “incredibly encouraging,” adding:

“This is the first time the national government in China has explicitly explained why dogs… are excluded from the official livestock list, stating that these are companion animals and not for eating.”

The move also comes after Shenzhen, a city with over 12.5 million residents, made history as the first city on the mainland to specifically ban the consumption of cats and dogs, with lawmakers dubbing the move a “universal civilization requirement for a modern society.”

A spokesperson for Shenzhen’s government said:

“Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”

Sun Quanhui, a researcher at United Nations consultative organization World Animal Protection, believes that other provinces and cities are likely to follow Shenzhen’s lead and outlaw the trade and consumption of cat and dog meat.

The new national guidelines lay out the 18 animals accepted as livestock, including cattle, pigs, poultry, and camels. Thirteen animals were also given an exemption from wild-animal trading and farm-raising restrictions, including alpaca, deer, foxes, mink, ostriches, pheasants, and reindeer.

The move is believed to be part of a series of responses the People’s Republic is taking after the coronavirus pandemic emerged around the wet markets of Wuhan, Hubei Province, in December.

The virus is believed to have originated in horseshoe bats, which likely passed the novel coronavirus to humans through an intermediary species, such as pangolins, which were being sold at the wet markets.

The trade and consumption of wildlife is valued at 520 billion yuan ($74 million USD) and employs over 14 million people, reports South China Morning Post. Poor rural populations view the massive-scale breeding of wildlife as a get-rich-quick scheme.

Thousands of people employed in dog-related businesses have vehemently opposed the new draft bill, especially in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which is home to the annual traditional dog meat festival in the city of Yulin. While the festival has been the target of ire by both domestic and international animal rights activists, dog business owners claim that the cost of changing professions is too much of a burden to handle in the short term.

In an online poll on social media platform Sina Weibo held on Thursday, over 40,000 Chinese netizens support the idea of a ban on consuming dog meat while only 6,600 opposed the idea.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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