• Tue
  • Sep 30, 2014
  • Updated: 4:51am
NewsChina
ANIMAL RIGHTS

Dog-eating festival loses its bite as animal rights activists step in

The roadside vendors were gone and restaurant trade down as officials sought to down play summer solstice event with canine meat on menu

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 4:39am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 12:04pm

The influx of hundreds of animal rights activists and dog lovers to Yulin, Guangxi, during the past month appeared to have an impact on the city's much-criticised dog-eating festival.

Consumption of dog meat at Yulin's restaurants is believed to have decreased significantly from last year, local restaurants and market operators say.

The run-up to the festival saw a series of confrontations between locals and animal right activists. On Friday night, more than 100 restaurant owners, residents and dog traders surrounded four animal right activists for at least an hour. The activists had to call the police to take them away as no taxi would carry them.

At midnight on Friday, the eve of the festival, activists went around the city to search slaughterhouses that they expected would be in full swing. Instead they found them closed.

Yesterday morning, activists held banners and posters in front of the Yulin government headquarters proclaiming "Yulin, I cry for you today" and calling for greater food safety. The protest ended after several policemen and residents confronted the activists. "Get out of Yulin!" some plain-clothes policemen were heard shouting.

As they protested, dog meat stalls in Dongkou, home to Yulin's biggest wet market, were crowded with local customers. Seven or eight dog carcasses hunging from each stand. But a taxi driver said the throngs of dog meat vendors seen at almost every busy intersection last year were absent. "They have all gone this year," the driver said. "And far fewer residents went to restaurants today as well."

Traditionally, people in Yulin celebrate the summer solstice by eating dog meat and lychees washed down by strong liquor. Each June in recent years, more than 10,000 dogs were slaughtered for the festival as tourists flooded the streets to enjoy the feasting.

The Yulin city government has always insisted that it does not support or sponsor the festival, saying the event was something businesses and local people invented. It is not an official holiday.

This year authorities took additional measures to play down the event, which they believe tarnishes the city's image.

"A large number of lawyers, scholars and activists from more than 60 animal rights associations have visited the city to investigate the festival. It has already raised a nationwide debate on whether people should call for an end to the practice, citing cruelty, local customs, the black market and food safety," said Zhang Yuanyuan, China director of Act Asia, an animal protection organisation based in the UK.

Earlier this month, the Yulin government declared that it did not sponsor the event and would strictly enforce food safety regulations. Civil servants, teachers and medical staff were also ordered not to eat dog meat at restaurants. And restaurants serving dog meat were ordered to cover the word "dog" on their signs.

From late last week, imports to Yulin of live dogs from provinces that did not carry out laboratory testing of the animals were banned. Vendors were also banned from slaughtering dogs at wet markets or on the street.

Authorities also told vendors to reduce dog meat sales as some restaurant owners said they had received dozens of threatening phone calls and messages from dog lovers.

"Officials have been ordered not to eat dog meat at restaurants. And some crazy unidentified people broke down the door of our slaughterhouses and stalls and stole our dogs. They are actually the robbers and are breaking the law," said an owner of one of the city's most popular restaurants.

She said business was down by about a third after the confrontation between locals and animal rights ac tivists.

Some residents said they had already gathered last weekend to eat dog meat and lychees in celebration of the year's longest day, despite yesterday being the summer solstice.

"My husband is a policeman and I also work at a state-run company. We don't want trouble. But we don't want to give up the most important local customs," resident Zhang Bing said. "So we went to my mother-in-law's home at a remote village last weekend and ate dog meat with family and friends.

"The dogs we eat are raised by local villagers just like pigs and chicken," she said. "The summer solstice tradition of eating dog and lychees has been long held in the countryside. It became a festival as more and more dog meat restaurants opened in Yulin in the past decades. Residents would invite friends to go out and enjoy dog meat hot pot there.

"Yulin people eat dog meat in all seasons, just like Cantonese eat chicken every day and foreigners eat beef. I miss last summer when friends got together and enjoyed dog meat and lychees at the crowded restaurants at night. It did look like a wonderful festival."

According to research carried out over a year at Yulin's dog meat market, released by the Guangdong-based animal rights NGO Best Volunteer Centre, the city had more than 100 slaughterhouses, processing between 30 and 100 dogs a day.

"We believe 99 per cent of these dogs in Yulin were stolen from other provinces and transported to Yulin illegally, instead of being raised at legal dog farms," said Huang Shandai, the NGO's founder.

According to the the Yulin Centre for Animal Disease Control and Prevention, the city had only eight dog slaughterhouses, selling about 200 dogs a day but reaching about 2,000 dogs during the summer solstice, Xinhua reported.

Most dogs sold in Yulin were healthy and raised in nearby villages, the report said, rather than being stolen from other provinces as the animal-lovers claimed.

Watch: Animal rights video of kennel in Yulin where dogs are held for slaughter (WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO)

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This article is now closed to comments

53aa7116-4d04-48c3-aea8-08ed0a3209ca
It's not about what people choose to eat, it's about the methods used to murder them. They are tortured to death with unconscionable cruelty. How would you like it if some superior species came to earth and tortured humans with unconscionable cruelty to death to eat them and you and your kids were next in line, do you understand that you sadistic half wits!!!
53a74034-a880-4c25-8c78-08e50a3209ca
If there is anything that history has taught us, it's that wrong doings do not go on forever. Where there is evil, there will always be heroes ready to stand against it. I applaud the heroes of China. Who stood against this evil of Yulin, China. These heroes watched in horror as this plague of society tortured dogs and cats. Yulin residents, you pay for stolen animals, torture them and then cry out when China's heroes try to save them. You have had your run of evil long enough. You have now caught the attention of the animal activists of the world and we are watching you with horror.
53a73311-05ec-4ff5-ba53-08d50a3209ca
I am a dog lover and I see this as awful! But of course when we look at these people we see a cultural heritage and a social status. I hate to imagine what they do in Europe inside their homes on a Friday evening. I would not give any dog on adoption to any cat oriental like these living in the West. They'd probably go home to eat it. Next time you order chinese wonder why their restaurant meat tastes so yummy!
michaelhctam@gmail.com
I want to deport you.
req
Some horsemeat would be nice.
michaelhctam@gmail.com
Those people that wanted to eat Dog meat are the victims in this situation. Who are these protesters to come and take away their right to eat Dog meat? These anti-Dog Meat thugs need to get a lesson in democracy.
These werent-able-to-eat-dog-meat victims should come here to Hong Kong where they will be free to eat as much Dog meat as they want. We are a free society here! Full of democracy and rights!
53a107e4-0b5c-478e-b2e6-4c5e0a320968
You got a great point. We should exercise our democracy through saying whatever we want without hate (and there's no hate in this). You're just looking through the lens of a cultural relativist that we should not judge other cultures, but accept it even if it's something against our own cultural values.
As to others, you are just examining it as wrong because you have feelings for dogs. There's nothing wrong with both opinions, except forcing it onto other people.
Getting education... well that's a pretty westernised POV since you're assuming he's not looking it the same way as you ( in this case, eating dogs and slaughtering them is "definitely" wrong). Given the things occuring in this situation, then i suppose you're the one who needs the "education" more than anyone else. We're going down this slippery slope with eating cows are fine, why not dogs? Well this is up to what you think :)
karin.maccurrie
F.U. faceless, it's not about what people choose to eat you uneducated idiot, it's about the methods used to dispatch them. They are tortured, do you understand that you half wit!!!
michaelhctam@gmail.com
So what if the Dogs were tortured? Is it wrong just because you dont like it? How dare you dictate your own opinions onto others in this free and democratic society. We slaughter pigs, cows and chicken en masse, but since you eat it you wont protest about it? Whats so different about killing dogs? Just because YOU dont like it?
Theres that Western democracy mindset at work again.
cbreos13
get an education.

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