China has announced plans to classify dogs as pets to help stop slaughter of innocent pooches.
It has come after the trade of wild animals in so-called wet markets was blamed for helping to spread the coronavirus.
A wet market in the city of Wuhan is widely seen as being the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic which has infected more than 1.6 million people around the world.
Among many exotic animals sold at the markets is dog meat, which remains a delicacy in many regions of China where the trade still thrives.
Livestock animals are defined as those that can be bred for food, milk, fur, fibre and medicine.
The new guidelines also added 13 "special" species that would also be exempt from wild animal trading restrictions, including reindeer, alpaca, pheasants, ostriches and foxes.
The country's Ministry of Agriculture announced the new guidelines. In the announcement 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."
Elsewhere seven people linked to the same restaurant in China have tested positive for coronavirus, sparking fears of a second wave of the killer bug just days after months of lockdown in Wuhan came to an end.
An animal rights group has warned that unless more is done to control hygiene in China's wet markets, the next global pandemic is 'right around the corner'.
Campaigners want the wet markets shut down because, in their words, they have "endangered the health of the entire planet".