A proposed draft of China's first law on animal welfare prohibits the consumption of dog and cat meat. Those consuming the meat could face fines of up to 5,000 yuan ($730) and up to 15 days' detention.
Organizations or units found guilty of selling the meat can be fined anywhere between 10,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan, according to the proposed draft law that is being drawn up by a panel of legal experts, the Beijing-based Mirror Evening News reported.
Chang Jiwen, a researcher with the law institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who headed the panel, said "There are still many difficulties to overcome before (legislators) include the article against consumption of dog and cat meat into the draft law,"
"I hope the problem can be solved as soon as possible, although it will be solved sooner or later,"
The prohibition would not affect the common Chinese citizen's life a lot, Chang said. With an improving living standard, very few people still eat dog or cat meat in China, he said.
Though most Western cultures view the consumption of dog or cat meat as a taboo, the practice has been considered a cultural tradition for those living in China's southern provinces.
The proposed draft has sparked a fierce debate.
"I don't know what we'll do if the law is passed. A majority of our customers eat dog meat as a habit," said Tian Zhiqing, a waitress at the Dog Meat King restaruant in Beijing's Xuanwu district.
The restaurant, which has been in operation for 12 years, generates a monthly business of nearly 300,000 yuan, she said.
"Besides stewed dog meat hotpot, too, is extremely popular here."
Wang Yan, a staff member at the Beijing-based Association of Small Animal Protection, said: "Cats and dogs are human beings' friends. We are always opposed to eating such animals. Those who eat them must definitely be punished."
More than 48 percent were in favor of fining or punishment of those found guilty of eating dog or cat flesh, while nearly 45 percent were against punishment.
Before being adopted as a law, the draft must go through the State Council and then receive three readings at the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the top legislature.
1. What are the proposed legal actions against people consuming dog/cat meat?
2. Which part of China is most dog meat consumed?
3. Where will the draft bill receive three readings before being passed into law?
1. A fine of up to 5,000 yuan ($730) and up to 15 days' detention.
2. China's southern provinces.
3. National People's Congress Standing Committee.