Thousands of terrified dogs — many of them stolen pets — are expected to be butchered for human consumption at a dog eating “celebration” that began on June 21.
Forced to travel long distances and crammed into crowded wire cages, the dogs will languish without food or water as they await their fate. They will watch on as those before them have their throats slit. Many are reportedly beaten — even burned or boiled alive.
Butchers kill dogs by stunning them with hammers and strangling them with nimble hands. The animals hang for sale on hooks after being grilled with blowtorches. That is a typical scene in Yulin, in China’s southern region of Guangxi, at the dog-meat eating festival held every summer. The practice has become increasingly controversial in China in the past five years or so.
Despite activists rescuing and buying hundreds of animals, up to 10,000 will be killed by the end of the festival.
Many of the animals rescued were still wearing collars with activists saying this proves they were pets stolen from their owners’ yards.
And this year cats have also been added to the menu.
Restaurant owners say eating dog meat is traditional during the summer, while animal rights activists say the festival has no cultural value and was merely invented to drum up business.
The Yulin authorities previously denied the killing of dogs even took place. But the Yulin authorities have now said they would tightly control pubic order, prosecute those stealing or poisoning dogs, and traders would no longer be permitted to slaughter dogs in public.
Adam Parascandola, of Humane Society International, which has been campaigning in Yulin, described the scenes of early morning slaughters which had to be carried out in darkness as daytime killings have been banned in a bid to reduce criticism.
He saw dogs brutally beaten to death with clubs in front of each other, their screams and howls breaking the silence.
Later he saw live animal markets in full swing with dogs, cats, puppies and kittens crammed into tiy cages fully exposed in the hot sun without water or shade.
He said: “As well as the obvious animal cruelty aspect of this horrific festival, campaigners are also raising very serious public health concerns about the transmission of rabies and other diseases in this completely unregulated and often criminal trade. Theft of pet dogs and cats plays a huge role in sustaining this industry.
“It’s been a real challenge to be here in Yulin over the past few days.
“I’ve witnessed truly heartbreaking animal suffering of dogs and cats that I will never forget, but at the same time I’ve also had the honor of working alongside really inspiring Chinese activists and ordinary animal-loving citizens who care deeply about ending this horrific trade.
“They give me hope for the future, and they in turn are feeling hopeful because they finally feel that their voices are being heard around the world. I sincerely hope the Chinese authorities listen too, and this will be the last we see of this brutal festival.”
Some social media users have responded to the world’s outrage by calling a ban on eating turkeys at Christmas.
One social media user said: ‘Eating dog is a tradition for some people. Like some who don’t eat pork or mutton, they won’t object to us eating pork or lamb.
‘We should have mutual respect for others. If you don’t like to eat something then don’t eat it.’
Another said: ‘Let’s all get together and condemn the practice of eating turkeys at Christmas!’
Campaigners were forcibly dispersed by unidentified men Monday as they attempted to rally outside a government office.
About 10 animal rights activists unfurled banners outside the Yulin government headquarters, before a group of 20 men came and chased them off.