June 21st made the summer solstice, and it also marked the controversial Yulin dog festival. An event where millions of dogs are killed to eat their meat as part of the “tradition.”
Despite worldwide condemn, protests and a supposed “dog meat sales ban” the festival took place two days ago. On the bright side, a truck full of dogs was saved from their unfortunate destiny by a group of activists.
Yet another year for the controversial Yulin festival
Each year, on June 21, the city of Yulin in the southwest province of Guangxi, holds a dog meat festival, even though it was reportedly created by local traders in 2010.
Over the past years, worldwide condemnation towards the event has grown and people had called for an end to the country’s dog meat trade.
The condemnation has had an impact on Yulin officials, who have taken measures to at least limit the controversy.
Since 2013, the Yulin authorities have held internal meetings to “advise” the vendors to stop public slaughter; in 2014, they removed the word “dog” from business signs; and in the past two years, they’ve urged traders and vendors to avoid conflict with activists who descend on the town.
And this year growing rumors of a sales ban seemed to point out to the event not happening. Sadly, it is happening.
Activists claim not only that the dogs are treated and killed inhumanely, but also that pet dogs are stolen and sold for consumption. However, vendors and participants dispute that.
Yulin’s government can’t shut down the festival because it’s not a state-sponsored event. Plus, eating dog meat isn’t illegal in China — activists estimate more than 10 million dogs are killed every year for food.
It’s important to highlight that compassion was once a state policy in China’s dynastic past that included vegetarianism and mercy release of captive animals. Ancient Chinese scholars used their actions to exemplify how compassion should work.
Also, in China’s past, dog meat was considered distasteful.
And more importantly, when Yulin’s dog meat vendors started the “festival,” activists in China were the first to oppose it. China’s young and educated urbanites stand at the forefront of the campaign.
Activist efforts and changing the minds
Humane Society International (HSI), a group of activists and rescuers, carried out a rescue on the eve of the festival.
The group negotiated with the driver that was moving the dogs to the slaughter. Reportedly, the driver did not have any health certificates for the dogs which are required under Chinese law.
According to Dr. Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist this was the biggest rescue of its kind in China.
“We applaud the brave work of the men and women animal lovers who saved the lives of these terrified animals who were headed towards a brutal slaughter,” he said.
Ling also pointed out to the significance of the rescue by highlighting the local youth participation in the rescue. Which is awesome because it means they’re changing their minds on the subject.
“These young activists are the hope of a new China that will be free of the dog meat trade cruelty.”