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China considering booting cats and dogs off restaurant menus

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Getting caught eating cat or dog could be punishable by 15 days in jail and more than $73,000 in fines if draft legislation passes muster with the National People's Congress of China. The animals have been part of the Chinese diet for thousands of years. There is even a restaurant chain that serves dog, known to the Chinese as "fragrant meat." According to the Guardian:

In ancient times, dog meat was considered a medicinal tonic. Today, it is commonly available throughout the country, but particularly in the north where dog stew is popular for its supposed warming qualities.

In recent years, however, such traditions are increasingly criticised by an affluent, pet-loving, urban middle class. Online petitions against dog and cat consumption have attracted tens of thousands of signatures. Videos showing the maltreatment of farmed dogs have spurred protests at markets where the animals are bought and sold.

It's not the first time the country has had to confront the issue. Beijing had the city's restaurants remove dishes containing dog for the 2008 Olympics so as not to offend Western visitors. Some Chinese, however, are taking offense with the latest effort to remove the animals from menus.

Online critics said it was hypocritical to protect only dogs and cats, and that the government should focus on human welfare before protecting animals.

"This is absurd. Why only dogs and cats? How about pigs, cows and sheep," wrote a poster going by the name Mummy on the Xhinua news agency website.

"I hope the experts went to see what laid-off workers and people in rural areas have to eat. They should pay more concern to problems that people really care about," said another contributor under the name Starfish.

What do you say, readers?