Animal cruelty in China increased significantly in 2010 with the creation of the “Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.” This festival, launched by Yulin’s dog meat traders as a way to boost their sales and profit, symbolizes the immense cruelty of the Chinese dog slaughter industry. According to the Humane Society International (HSI), the Dog Meat Festival was originally endorsed by local officials under the belief that it would increase tourism, however, has since been rightfully condemned.
The dogs that are tortured in Yulin every year on the summer solstice (June 21st and 22nd) are stolen from their owners or picked up off the streets, and can come from as far away as 1,500 miles. If the dogs make it alive to the slaughterhouse, despite the harsh handling and conditions of the trucks (the dogs are thrown on top of each other with no food, water, or bathroom), they are beaten to death with metal poles.
Internationally, the HSI has exposed the festival, providing media coverage and advocacy work. While there has been an agreed opposition against the festival by U.K. Parliament and U.S. Congressional Resolution, the efforts of Chinese policymakers have been receiving backlash.
Among the Chinese policymaker’s first recorded banning attempts, is from May of 2014 when Yulin authorities realized that their previously endorsed dog slaughtering festival was a detriment to their city’s tourism rates. They claimed that the Yulin festival was a private business event not associated with the government and warned all government employees and families to not eat at dog meat restaurants. That year, authorities were able to close down a live dog market and two dog slaughter operations, saving a number of dogs’ lives.
The next year, officials ordered their city’s restaurants to reduce their dog meat dishes and remove outside tables. In 2016, the dog meat festival was met by roadblocks from the Yulin police that stopped trucks filled with dogs from entering the city; while the roadblocks were implemented a little late, the gesture was significant and increased the amount of animals saved. Last year, authorities attempted to place a ban on the sale of dog meat but, due to pressure from local dog traders, ended up rescinding the ban and instead limiting each market stall to only offer a certain number of dogs for sale.
Since the arrival of the HSI’s presence in China and their ability to gather selfless animal activists, the number of dogs and cats associated with the brutal dog meat trade in China has dramatically decreased. From when it started in 2010, the barbaric Yulin festival has reduced in size from 10,000 dogs slaughtered annually to 1,000. While this is progress, even a handful of animals being subjected to torture means that there is still much that we can do.
On January 1, 2017, the HSI was met with opposition: China’s Foreign NGO Law came into effect. The NGO law is directed toward Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations and transfers the activities and funding of the Yulin Lychee & Dog Meat Festival to the discretion of Chinese authorities, limiting what the HSI can do to help. Though restricted, the HSI is not fighting back, as breaking the law penalizes our Chinese friends and activists substantially.
Recently, these Chinese activists arranged for the release of dogs from three different Yulin slaughterhouses. When infiltrating the facilities, they were shocked to come across blood-stained floors, dozens of emaciated and terrified dogs, and a man beating a dog on the head to its death. Luckily, the volunteers were able to rescue all of the 135 dogs they discovered and transport them to a temporary shelter, nursing and caring for their injuries. 3 of these dogs gave birth shortly after arriving at the shelter.
Since then, the dogs have been placed in permanent shelters and are receiving all the care needed to make a full recovery. These dogs were spared, but there’s still so many more (over 1,000) that we can help.
The HSI knows, from past experience, that the best way to make an impact and stop the unnecessary dog and cat slaughters from occurring is to spread awareness and work together. If you believe that dogs (and cats!) shouldn’t be tortured for human profit, sign this Care2 petition that urges the Chinese President Xi Jinping to ban the festival. If you’d like to do more to show your support the HSI’s lifesaving work, consider donating to continue to support the lives of man’s best friends.