China’s Guangxi province is preparing for its controversial Yulin festival. Thousands of dogs are expected to be slaughtered and eaten in an annual celebration on June 22nd.
Animal rights campaigners believe that many of the animals may be stolen pets or strays and subjected to inhumane treatment. It’s claimed that some of the dogs are transported many miles in cramped cages without food or water, sometimes still wearing collars provided by their loving owners.
Although authorities in Yulin have withdrawn their support, the festival is still expected to go ahead. In China opinions are divided as many oppose the festival, saying dogs should not be eaten.
The Humane Society International has been campaigning for an end to China’s dog and cat meat trade. Supported by comedian Ricky Gervais, it’s petitioning China’s Guangxi Party Secretary Peng Qinghua with requests to end the festival. The organisation fears the animals will be subjected to beatings and slaughtered while fully conscious. It is also claimed that the practice could lead to the spread of rabies.
The Telegraph reports that around 10 million dogs are still eaten in China per year, with around one million slaughtered for festivals. Until recently dog meat was also a common sight in restaurants in Beijing. The Economist claims authorities cracked down on the practice prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in an attempt to avoid offending pet-loving foreign visitors.