Could This Finally Be The End Of China’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

As a new law is passed banning the sale of dog meat in Yulin, we look further the notorious dog meat festival

Could This Finally Be The End Of China's Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

by Molly Shanahan |
Published on

It’s that time of year again when our feeds get crammed with petitions and posts, all speaking out in horror against the notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival. To us, a country where dogs and cats are common family pets, the images the and very concept of the whole thing are shocking.

However, it seems like there might be good news on the horizon. The city of Yulin has officially planned to ban the sale of dog meat ahead of June’s festival. This news comes after high-profile campaigning from celebrities as well as a petition from the Humane Society which gained over 11 million signatures. Yulin will become the first city in China to ban the sale of dog meat, however it's unclear what this will mean for the festival itself.

In light of this, we take a look at what the event is all about.

What is it?

It’s an annual event held in a place called Yulin, in the South East of China. Both dogs and cats are consumed at the festival with over 15,000 of them slaughtered across the 10 day event. It’s faced international condemnation for years but the Chinese government have struggled to stop it legally.

What happens to the dogs?

You may have seen the heartbreaking images of dogs crammed into wire cages, many of them are taken across long distances and forced to go for days without food or water before being killed. The barbarity of the ‘festival’ is also a startling part of it, with reports of the dogs being beaten and even burned, skinned or boiled alive. Further reports of some of the dogs having collars have led to questions over whether some of them are even stolen pets.

Why hasn’t it been stopped already?

Since public outcry, many efforts have been made to cancel the event. With the city of Yulin even vowing not to support it from 2015 onwards, but local government officials say it is organised by private businesses and they are unable to prevent it.

Is this part of an old tradition?

It may sound like something from the middle ages but no, bizarrely this event started just seven years ago in 2010 as a way for local dog meat traders to boost sales, around 10 million dogs are said to be killed for their meat each year in China.

What is the history behind the consumption of dogs in China?

There is obviously a cultural disparity to be noted here. Although dogs are seen as pets across many areas of China, there has been a long-standing practise of consuming them like other kinds of meat in more rural parts of the country. Eating, selling and buying dog meat is legal in China, and some say that eating dogs has been considered to help ward off the heat during summer months but the height of its consumption was around 3rd century AD, so it’s probably time for that tradition to die out now.

Which celebs have spoken against it?

Unsurprisingly, charities like PETA have publicly condemned the event, however they also urge people to consider the way they think about the consumption of meat more generally. The late Carrie Fisher was one of the most famous activists protesting against the festival. She gathered with campaigners (and her dog Gary) outside the Chinese embassy in London urging them to formally send the petition. Ricky Gervais has also been very public about his condemnation of the event for years.

What has the public done?

To date, over 11 million people have signed a petition to cancel the annual event which has been handed in to the Yulin government in Beijing, and it looks like it might have worked!

What now?

The festival itself is hard to ban but dog meat sales are to be banned in Yulin. The ban will come into effect on June 15th with fines of up to £11,250 for those seen breaking it, which aims to stop restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling meat at the event. The law is tricky around this one but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

What part do we play in this?

Many animal activists are calling for more of us to be aware of the ways we may have been conditioned to view certain animals (chickens, pigs, cows and lambs) as food rather than pets and therefore turn a blind eye to the cruelty they face in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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