Matt Damon & Other Hollywood Celebrities Speak Out Against The Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Matt Damon, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Mara, Rooney Mara, and one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump, have joined hands with animal rights activists in the U.S. and China to stop the notorious Yulin festival. Also known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, this year’s event started last week. Thousands of dogs will be killed for consumption during this festival.

The celebrities, including Matt Damon, appeared in a video by the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in order to appeal to the people to stop the cruelty going on in the Yulin dog meat festivals each year.

The dog meat festival in the city of Yulin in South China is timed with the summer solstice and is based on a superstition that says consuming dog meat at the beginning of the summer will bring good fortune for the rest of the year.

An undercover video from inside a slaughterhouse in Yulin was released earlier this year. In this video, most of the dogs had collars in their necks, indicating that they were most likely stolen from the streets of Beijing and Shanghai and sent over to Yulin to be slaughtered for this year’s dog meat festival.

The killing of dogs and the consumption of their meat is a Chinese tradition that dates back 500 years. Approximately 10 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China. Michael Zhao of the Asia Society, however, says that the consumption of dog meat in China is not actually as widespread a practice as it is believed to be. According to him, it is only in some very specific areas, such as Yulin, that the practice is still extremely popular.

“There’s definitely a lot of myth. I’m not seeing a lot of scientific literature saying dog meat is good for your body or for your health, so I would say that there’s a lot of myth in this sort of traditional subscription to that idea.”

Three activists with the animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere were sent undercover to Yulin in April to document the on-going preparations for this year’s dog meat festival.

In a footage exclusively provided to ABC News, they were able to capture several heart-wrenching incidents of brutality against man’s best friends. Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere said this about the video.

“I was shocked and horrified by what I saw. Many of them [are] breeds that Americans know very well, like Labradors, Cocker Spaniels. So it was terrifying.”

While filming the brutality in the slaughter houses, the activists reportedly ran into some deep trouble when the local traders discovered their activities. One of the undercover activists spoke about the daunting experience.

“They grabbed us, both of us, [and took us] over to a wall and two of the men — there were about 10 men and six women — two of them picked up metal polls,” Perry said. “They were holding them in their hands and hitting them in their hands. These were men that we had seen the previous day beat animals to death. And I remember sitting there next to Wayne thinking, this might be where I die.”

The apprehended activists were later handed over to local authorities, who, after a couple of days of interrogation, let them leave.

Although the tradition of killing and consuming dogs in China is over 500 years old, the Yulin dog meat festival began in 2010 in hopes of boosting the local dog meat trade. The locals in Yulin have, however, maintained a tradition of eating Lychee and dog meat at the summer solstice for many generations.

Warning! The following video shows scenes from inside a dog slaughterhouse in China. Some viewers may find this extremely upsetting.

[Photo by Andy Wong/AP Images]