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China Reclassifies Dogs As Pets, Not Livestock

China has introduced new guidelines to reclassify dogs as pets rather than livestock in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Humane Society has described the move as a potential "game changer" in animal welfare.

In a statement published on Wednesday the nation's Ministry of Agriculture said dog meats remains a delicacy in a number of regions but they would no longer be considered as livestock -- animals which can be bred to provide food, milk, fur, fibre and medicine, or to serve the needs of sports or the military.

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Chinese City Bans Eating Cats And Dogs After Felines Were Found To Pass Coronavirus To Each Other

The Chinese city of Shenzhen has banned the eating of dogs and cats as part of a wider crackdown on the nation's wildlife trade, as new research reveals felines can catch coronavirus -- and pass it on.

"As far as dogs are concerned, along with the progress of human civilisation and the public concern and love for animal protection, dogs have been 'specialised' to become companion animals, and internationally are not considered to be livestock, and they will not be regulated as livestock in China," the statement said.

Many experts believe Covid-19 originated from bats and was transmitted to humans at a wildlife market in Wuhan. The revelation promoted Chinese authorities to ban breeding, trading and consumption of wildlife.

The draft guidelines published on Wednesday, which have been opened to the public for consultation, listed 18 traditional livestock species - including cattle, pigs, poultry and camels.

A dog on the streets of Chengdu in the Sichuan province. Image: Getty

It also added 13 "special" species that would also be exempt from wild animal trading restrictions, including reindeer, alpaca, pheasants, ostriches and foxes.

Meanwhile, just last week the Shenzhen province became the first to ban the eating of cats and dogs.

It is estimated about 10 million dogs are killed every year in China for meat, which includes stolen pets.

With AAP.