For months now, activists and protestors have been calling for the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China to be brought to a halt. The summer festival, which has been happening since 2010, kills roughly 10,000 dogs in a 10 day time frame. Many of these dogs are stolen pets, still wearing their collars.
But the festival is now underway, despite heavy backlash. According to CBS, many activists are purchasing the dogs being sold for meat in order to rescue them from their fate. Frequently, these activists get into heated debates with the local residents. The police have had to step in from time to time to avoid physical confrontations.
Yulin locals have been expressing their frustration with the activists. Restaurant owners and festival-goers claim that they are “ruining what they consider a local tradition.” Those who consume dog meat state that eating it helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and wards off the summer heat. Many of the restaurant owners have been forced to take their celebrations indoors, and the outdoor consumption of dog meat is no longer seen.
For many people, the thought of eating man’s best friend is upsetting enough. But many activists also point out that the dog meat industry is highly unregulated. Dogs that are sold for meat are not only stolen pets, but also strays picked up off the street. Many of these dogs are packed tightly into cages and travel over 1,000 miles to the festival area, with no food or water for days. In addition to the cruelty the dogs face, eating the dog meat has the potential to expose humans to diseases such as trichinellosis, rabies, and cholera.
But the dog meat industry remains successful in China. Every year approximately 10 to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat. The Yulin festival has become a symbol of cruelty for the industry as a whole.
One American activist named Marc Ching has a history of shutting down dog slaughterhouses and rescuing dogs being sold for meat. For the Yulin festival, Ching traveled to China before it started to begin his rescue mission. Thus far, he and his team of volunteers have successfully rescued 1,000 dogs from being eaten.
Although the Chinese government has attempted to distance itself from the Yulin festival since 2014, Ching stated on his Facebook page that he was detained, beaten, and later followed by law enforcement on his way to the Yulin festival. Despite these setbacks, he has still been successful in his activism.
Many individuals are deeply disturbed by the Yulin festival and are looking for ways to help. CBS has suggestions for those who may not be able to travel to the festival itself. Humane Society International has been applying political pressure via the use of petitions. One petition calling for the Yulin festival to be banned was sent to the Chinese government with 11 million signatures. And it’s making a difference. A drop in the death rate of the dogs as well as public consumption of the meat has been noticed. It is worth nothing was groups of individuals can accomplish, even from afar.
Another thing individuals can do is consider adopting one of the rescued dogs. The Humane Society International has been making efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the dogs. Some will even be sent to the United States to be placed in shelters and future homes. Consider contacting the Human Society International for more information on how to give new life to one of these rescued dogs.
For dog lovers everywhere, the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is deeply disturbing and heartbreaking. But it is important to remember that though the festival will end, the dog meat industry in China has not. Stay informed and look to organizations such as Humane Society International for ways to continue to help.