It’s Not A Human Eat Dog World: The Yulin Dog Meat Festival

More than 10,000 dogs are killed for the festival in south-west China.

By Erin Kirkpatrick

There is no doubt that this is a disturbing topic, but it warrants discussion. Only by speaking up and exposing the cruel, inhumane treatment of these animals can we get anywhere close to stopping it.

Held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, known more widely as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, is a yearly summer solstice celebration. As the event’s title suggests, attendees consume lychee fruit and dog meat. The consumption of dog meat is a tradition that dates back between 400 to 500 years. It was believed to keep the blistering heat of the summer months at bay.

Change.org’s Stop the Yulin Dog Meat Eating Festival online petition page describes the event:

“This brutal ‘festival’ involves what some call savoring the “delights” of dog meat hotpot, lychees, and strong liquor — which will increase the abduction of strays and pets and also increase the torturous & inhumane prisons of dog meat farms – places where man’s best friends are raised for such purposes — thousands of dogs will suffer, be butchered, beaten to death, skinned alive and eaten.”

Credit: Change.org

It is estimated that between 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are killed over the festival’s 10-day period.

This festival, started in 2009 by dog meat vendors hoping to boost business, was instantly met with worldwide outrage, controversy, and disgust, and continues to be a source of tension. Where there are critics, there are also supporters. They speak of the cultural, traditional relevance, and dog meat vendors have routinely suggested that all the dogs are killed in a humane way.

Animal rights activists and festival critics aren’t buying it, and they definitely shouldn’t be …

Judging from the graphic media assets that have surfaced over the years, it’s hard to make the “humane treatment” argument and justify the existence of this festival for a number of reasons. Besides the obvious, that you’re consuming a vulnerable, kindhearted, loving animal. First, the 10,000 to 15,000 dogs killed are made up of diseased strays and stolen pets.

 Photo: Stop Yulin Forever

Stolen dogs fund much of the dog meat industry.

Second, animals are transported hundreds of miles with no regard for their well being, no food or water. Third, they are often beaten to death in front of each other or dismembered while still alive. That does not sound humane in any way, shape or form. There are so, so, so many reasons why this is horrifying event should cease to exist.

The ever-growing negative publicity and press surrounding the festival has led to a steady decline in the number of dogs slaughtered each year. Yulin officials, who previously denied the existence of the event, made infant-sized steps in 2015, by acknowledging the festival and refusing to endorse it. Yet, locals still find ways to participate and animal rights activists, both local and foreign, still rescue as many dogs as they can from the slaughter. In a Humane Society blog post, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Humane Society of the United States Wayne Pacelle wrote, “Yulin’s government has responded by banning public slaughter of the animals, and by removing the words “dog meat” from all banners related to the festival. But the killing continues behind closed doors and in the middle of the night.”

Photo: Stop Yulin Forever

In January, a large-scale operation by Humane Society International (HSI) saw 200 dogs rescued from a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea. And in March, over 50 dogs were rescued from similar circumstances. HSI has shut down seven farms, rescuing approximately 800 dogs who were being bred for the sole purpose of human consumption, since 2015.

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