Chinese city ignores protests, holds dog-meat festival

2016-06-21 17:00
Dogs kept in a cage are for sale at a market during a dog meat festival in Yulin, China. (Andy Wong, AP)

Dogs kept in a cage are for sale at a market during a dog meat festival in Yulin, China. (Andy Wong, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yulin - A city in southern China went ahead with an annual dog-meat eating festival on Tuesday despite heavy criticism and protests from animal rights activists.

Vendors slaughtered dogs and cooked their meat in dozens of restaurants across the city of Yulin, in an event that has come to symbolise the cruelty and potential for spreading disease associated with the largely unregulated industry.

Activists bought dogs from dealers who had been planning to slaughter them, while local residents complained that outsiders were ruining what they consider a local tradition.

"We came to Yulin to tell people here dogs are our friends. They should not kill dogs in such a cruel way and many of the dogs they killed are pet dogs," said Yang Yuhua, a volunteer from the central city of Chongqing.

An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China, and the Yulin event has become a lightning rod for criticism.

Many of the dogs are believed to have been pets stolen from their owners or simply picked up off the street. They are stuffed in cages, and trucked to the city about 2 000km south of Beijing in the province of Guangxi, often without food or water.

Cats eaten at the festival are subjected to similar ill treatment.

The local government has in recent years sought to disassociate itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.

"The so-called dog-meat eating festival has never been officially recognised by government or by any regulations or laws," said an official reached by telephone at the city government's general office.

"We hold meetings every time before the so-called festival, discussing counter measures such as deploying local police, business and sanitary authorities to inspect and deal with those who sell dogs," said the official, who like many Chinese bureaucrats would give only his surname, Liu, because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

Opponents this year expanded their campaign to the United States, petitioning politicians in San Francisco to pressure their Chinese colleagues into calling for an end to the slaughter.

As many as 10 000 dogs are believed to be killed during the event, which falls around the summer solstice that arrived on Monday this year. Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism.

"It's been a tradition for years for us to celebrate the festival. We can't change it simply because they [animal lovers] love dogs," a local resident, who gave only his surname, Huang, told The Associated Press.

'Ruined mood'

"They don't want us to eat dog meat. We eat dog meat to celebrate the festival, but since they've come here, they've ruined our mood completely," Huang said.

Opponents say the festival is cruel and has no redeeming cultural value.

Another animal rights activists, Chen Chun, said the push to end the Yulin festival was part of a larger campaign to pass legislation banning animal cruelty. A draft animal cruelty law remains mired in China's legislature and prosecution of dog thieves and those violating animal transport laws remains lax, activists complain.

"Our ultimate goal is that the country can make a law to protect animals, especially dogs here," Chen said.

Activists debated and argued with local residents, with police intervening at times to prevent any physical confrontations.

Activists said rallies held around the country to oppose dog eating, as well as outrage on social media from the growing ranks of dog lovers, are already having an effect. Dog meat restaurants have been forced to take the festival indoors and large-scale open air dog-meat consumption is no longer seen.

Along with the question of animal cruelty, dog meat also poses a risk to human health by spreading diseases such as trichinellosis, rabies and cholera, the Humane Society says.

Guangxi is already one of China's five worst areas affected by human rabies, and Yulin ranks as one of the top 10 Chinese cities in terms of cases, the organisation says.

Read more on:    china  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.