This Sunday, residents of a small city in southern China will be holding their annual dog-meat festival. Determined to maintain the unique tradition of holding a summer solstice canine banquet, the people of Yulin, a city in China’s Guangxi province, will tuck into dog-meat hotpot served with lychees and strong grain liquor in defiance of intense criticism from animal rights groups.
Yulin officials claim that the dogs are raised by local farmers, but, according to Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based animal protection organisation, many of the dogs consumed during the festival are stolen pets, captured and transported to Yulin over long distances under horrific conditions on filthy, overcrowded trucks. Others are strays, significantly increasing the risk of rabies and other contagious diseases. “Stolen dogs without quarantine certificates are cruelly slaughtered and sold to restaurants at very low prices,” explains Master Huici, assistant director of the Hebei Buddhism Charity Foundation.
Humane Society International, along with local groups on the ground, is trying to persuade the chinese authorities to bring an end to this cruelty. Their petition states: “[The dogs] are held in crowded cages without food or water until they are killed. Often, they are beaten and their throats are slit in front of other terrified animals. Most Chinese citizens reject this practice, and we’re committed to supporting them in changing their laws. Last year, thanks to overwhelming international pressure, Yulin authorities announced that they would not support the festival. The result was a subdued event and fewer dogs slaughtered. More recently, the authorities have claimed that the festival wouldn’t happen this year, but preparations for a mass dog slaughter are underway despite this statement.”