“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,” officials in Shenzhen, which is about 16 miles from Hong Kong, said in an order Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization,” the order said.
Experts believe the novel virus likely originated late last year at a wild animal market in Wuhan, China – the city at the epicenter of the crisis – before it spread through the country and across the world.
More than 926,000 have been sickened by the virus and more than 46,000 have died globally as of April 1.
In February, China’s central government temporarily banned breeding and eating wild animals to combat the spread, but Shenzhen’s order, which goes into effect May 1, is permanent, The Washington Times reported.
President Xi Jinping said in February the country should “resolutely outlaw and harshly crackdown” on the illegal wildlife trade because of the public health risks it poses.
Before the ban, 54 species, including pangolins and civets were legal as long as they were raised on farms and at least 3,700 markets across the country have been shut down amid inspections.
Dogs especially are popular in certain parts of the country, Reuters reported.
“There is no evidence showing that wildlife is more nutritious than poultry and livestock,” Liu Jianping, of the Shenzhen Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told state media, according to Reuters.
Turtles and frogs will still be allowed under the order.
The 2003 SARS outbreak is believed to have been related to the consumption of wild animals into the area, according to The Times.