Dog and cat meat reportedly banned from notorious Chinese festival

A cat, later rescued by the Humane Society International, climbs up a cage in a slaughterhouse.
AP for HSI

A cat, later rescued by the Humane Society International, climbs up a cage in a slaughterhouse.

Animal welfare organisations say street vendors, restaurants, and markets are expected to ban dog meat from a notorious annual summer festival in China.

The annual festival, known as the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, or the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, started in 2009 and animal welfare groups estimate 15,000 dogs are consumed at the 10-day event.

The Humane Society International and the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project said sources learned the government in Yulin, southeast China, was expected to enact a ban.

Dogs for sale at the dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, in June 2015.
KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS

Dogs for sale at the dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, in June 2015.

Festival-goers slaughter dogs, and cats, for human consumption.

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"The government order to local dog meat traders announcing this change comes just weeks before the annual summer festival, where traders deliver frightened and dehydrated dogs by the thousands for local butchers to kill and dismember.

"It was promoted by local dog meat traders as a 'local tradition' when, in fact, it was only created less than a decade ago as a way to promote dog meat consumption in China."

The Humane Society International said the ban was expected to apply from early June, before the start of the festival on June 21.

Humane Society International China policy specialist Peter Li said the festival was not over yet but it was a nail in the coffin for a gruesome event.

Dogs in cages for the meat trade in China.
AP for HSI

Dogs in cages for the meat trade in China.

"Millions of dogs and cats are stolen each year, including pets, and driven thousands of miles across China to be bludgeoned to death in front of each other.

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"As opposition to this trade has grown within China and across the world, much focus has been placed on the Yulin festival and so it is significant politically that the authorities are taking the outrage to curb this cruelty seriously.

"At last year's Yulin festival there were roadblocks set up to deter dog trucks coming in, and now this ban signals further progress.

Cats are also slaughtered for human consumption at the Yulin festival.
YouTube

Cats are also slaughtered for human consumption at the Yulin festival.

"Regrettably, many dogs and cats will still be killed for the Yulin festival in advance of the ban, so their suffering is not over yet, but this is certainly a milestone victory and we commend the Yulin authorities for taking this action."

Duo Duo Project executive director Andrea Gung said she hoped the ban started a domino effect to collapse the dog meat trade.

"I hope this will turn out to be the beginning of the end of the dog eating habit in China."

A dog truck stopped by animal welfare activists near Beijing.
Duo Duo Project

A dog truck stopped by animal welfare activists near Beijing.

Authorities are reportedly determined to enforce the ban, potentially fining, or jailing, anyone who violates the order.

Earlier this year, the Taiwanese government banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, the first country in Asia to do so.

While Hong Kong was under British rule, the sale and slaughter of dogs and cats was outlawed, but consumption was not expressly banned.

People eat at a dog meat restaurant district on the day of local dog meat festival in Yulin, in 2015.
KIM KYUNG-HOON/Reuters

People eat at a dog meat restaurant district on the day of local dog meat festival in Yulin, in 2015.

It's estimated around 25 million dogs are killed annually for human consumption.

Many countries allow dog and cat eating, and in New Zealand there is no law expressly banning the practice, as long as the animal does not suffer and is killed humanely.

 - Stuff

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