China is pushing forward with plans to move away from slaughtering millions of dogs for meat every year.
The Ministry of Agriculture has announced new guidelines that declare pooches are pets, rather than livestock.
The department wrote: "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 guidelines have revised the list of 18 animals accepted as livestock, which include cattle, pigs, poultry and camels.
Thirteen animals have been given a special exemption from wild-animal trading restrictions, such as reindeer, alpaca, pheasants, ostriches and foxes.
Dog meat is still considered a delicacy in China and there are several regions where the trade thrives.
However, Shenzhen, a city which boasts more than 12.5 million residents, was the first to introduce a permanent ban on the sale and human consumption of dog and cat meat.
Lawmakers identified that the ruling is a 'universal civilisation requirement for a modern society'.
A spokesperson for the Shenzhen 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 civilisation."
Shenzhen's new ruling on cat and dog meat will be a permanent ban, however citizens will still be able to eat pigs, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, China put a temporary ban on wild animal markets to prevent people from being infected.
The country has promised to look at the ban once the pandemic settles down to see if it should be upgraded to permanent.
Millions dogs are killed every year in China for human consumption, according to the Humane Society International.
The city of Yulin in the Guangxi region hosts an annual dog meat festival in June, which routinely attracts criticism from the international community.
This declaration from China's Ministry of Agriculture shows that it is moving in the right direction to protect more dogs from being killed.
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