Despite widespread criticism and international opposition, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival has officially begun in southern China. The annual event involves butchering of thousands of dogs for human consumption.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival has begun. During the festival, between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs are expected to be killed in some of the most inhumane ways for people to enjoy the meat. While the specifics vary each year, quite a few merchants and restaurants parade the dogs in cages on their way to the slaughterhouse. Thereafter, the dogs are cooked for eating by festival attendees and local residents, who reportedly take great pride in their work.
According to the Humane Society International, thousands of dogs and cats will meet a terrifying end by being bludgeoned and beaten to death and then skinned. The gory spectacle plays out in front of other dogs and cats that are crammed together in tiny cages. These poor, defenseless creatures witness, in horror, the violent and brutal end that awaits them too.
The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival sees people gathering in Yulin to sample dog meat hotpots, lychee fruits, and local liquor, reported BBC. Incidentally, the tradition of eating dog meat is about 500 years old. Countries like China, South Korea, and a few other South Asian regions have the tradition deeply rooted in local culture. Regional medical practitioners routinely recommend consumption of dog meat to strengthen immunity against the sweltering heat experienced in the summer months.
While the practice of eating dog meat may be old, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is a fairly new occurrence. It was started in 2010 by a group of local businessmen. Interestingly, many Chinese citizens find the practice barbaric and have joined the growing international community in opposing the practice of butchering dogs by the hundreds. According to state news agency Xinhua, 64 percent of Chinese people aged 16 to 50 would support a permanent end to the festival. Some 51.7 percent, including Yulin residents, wanted the dog meat trade banned completely, and 69.5 per cent said they have never eaten dog meat, reported SBS Australia.
Earlier this year, a petition created by Humane Society International and addressed to China’s president Xi Jinping, asking for the end of the festival where animals “suffer enormously,” garnered more than 11 million signatures. However, despite the overwhelming response, the London Chinese embassy rejected the petition and refused to act upon the same.
The locals insist that the dogs are killed in a humane manner. However, activists who are fighting an uphill battle to stop the practice of bringing in thousands of dogs in crammed cages by the truckload have a very different and sordid tale of unspoken horrors. The majority of dogs are transported over long distances and even denied food and water along the journey. Parched and starving, many animals die along the route. Needless to add, the inhumane storage also leads to diseases.
Meanwhile, the local government categorically distanced itself from the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in 2014, stating the annual event doesn’t have any official backing but is conducted by private businesses who wish to promote dog meat. However, the practice of selling dog meat for human consumption is very much legal in China. While exact figures are hard to come by, animal rights activists insist that close to 10 million dogs are killed each year for human consumption.
Fortunately, owing to the opposition, the response to this year’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival has been mild. Many restaurants in the area have started to slowly distance themselves from the festival. The muted response to the festival could be a sign it might wind-up in coming years, hope animal rights activists.
[Image via Humane Society International]