Source: Humane Society International, Duo Duo Project
“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade..”
Just weeks ahead of China’s annual dog meat festival in Yulin, at which thousands of dogs and cats are brutally bludgeoned to death and sold for their meat, animal campaigners Duo Duo Project and Humane Society International have received reports from Chinese activist and confirmed by three traders at Yulin’s biggest dog meat market Dongkou, that the Yulin government is set to prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event. The ban will come into effect on 15th June one week prior to the festival that begins on the summer solstice of 21st June. It will be strictly enforced with fines of up to 100,000 yuan and risk of arrest for violations.
The news is warmly if cautiously welcomed by Duo Duo Project, HSI and their respective Chinese animal group partners on the ground, all of whom have campaigned for years for an end to the brutality of Yulin and China’s year-round dog meat trade. While campaigners recognise that the ban is temporary and does not yet signal an end to the Yulin event in advance of which dogs are still likely to be killed, it is nonetheless a milestone victory in the ongoing campaign to end mass dog and cat slaughter at Yulin, and is evidence of growing political will from inside China to clamp down on the trade.
Andrea Gung, executive director of Duo Duo Project, says: “Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade. I have visited Yulin many times in the last two years. This ban is consistent with my experience that Yulin and the rest of the country are changing for the better. I am very impressed that the younger generation in Yulin and in China is as compassionate as their counterparts in the rest of world. Duo Duo Project also wants to congratulate Mr. Mo Gong Ming, Yulin’s new Party Secretary, for his progressive and visionary leadership. I hope this will turn out to be the beginning of the end of the dog eating habit in China.”
Peter Li, China Policy specialist at Humane Society International, says: “The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet, but if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolise China’s crime-fuelled dog meat trade. 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. 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. 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 and HSI are urging Yulin authorities to make the ban permanent; make public service announcements warning against transporting dogs for the dog meat trade that highlight the new associated penalties; enforce food safety laws and regulations; and build a government facility to house dogs confiscated from the dog meat trade.
More than 10 million dogs and around four million cats are killed every year across China for their meat. Contrary to popular belief, the Yulin festival is not a traditional event but one invented in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging sales. At its height an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 dogs were killed at Yulin, reduced to 2,000 to 3,000 in recent years. Most of the dogs are stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death. Most people in China don’t eat dogs, and pet owners and dog thieves have had numerous violent clashes. The dog meat trade also poses a threat to public health, with the World Health Organisation warning that the trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera.
Last year, a petition with 11 million signatures was handed in to the Yulin government in Beijing on behalf of Humane Society International, Duo Duo Project, RaiseUrPaw, Care2 and Avaaz. The late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and her dog Gary gathered with the campaigners outside the Chinese Embassy in London to send the petition on its way. Speaking at the event, Fisher said “There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end. But stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy. All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops. These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary, every one of them is someone’s best friend.”
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., introduced a congressional resolution last year condemning the Yulin dog meat festival and urging China to end its dog meat trade. He reintroduced it this year, and H. Res. 30 already has the bipartisan support of 153 cosponsors.