Residents of China’s southern city of Yulin defended eating dog meat to celebrate the summer solstice on Thursday, June 21, as animal rights activists seek new ways to pressure organizers to cancel the annual festival.
The ten-day event dubbed the lychee and dog meat festival by residents has become a lightning rod for dog lovers, who every year confront those who buy, sell and eat canines. In recent years, animal rights activists have raided slaughterhouses and intercepted truckloads of dogs in efforts to limit the number of animals killed.
“I think it’s a social evil to treat our loyal friend and companion animal like this (to eat it and abuse it). No matter where it is. Because a companion animal is not an animal for economic means, nor is it a food-producing animal because the country does not have any slaughter or quarantine regulations on them. That’s the way I used to persuade the government’‘, said Professor from University of technology in Guangzhou province, Zhuang Huahua.
Activists say the dog meat trade is inhumane and unhygienic, pointing to videos of dogs caught with wire lassos, transported in tiny cages and slaughtered with metal rods. Festival-goers remain defiant.
‘‘Those scenes of bloody dog slaughter that you see online, I want to say that the killing of any animal will be bloody. I hope people can look at this objectively. Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. I think popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong. Some media or so-called dog lovers come to Yulin and have conflict with local people. Each side has their own position, I think there’s no right or wrong’‘, said Yulin resident Wang Yue.
Dog meat is a traditional food in some areas of southern China, where it is believed to be good for the body in warm weather.
However, animal protection group Humane Society International said in a statement the festival was “manufactured” by the dog meat traders and that dog meat was not part of mainstream food culture in China.
The event is not sanctioned by Yulin authorities, but police told Reuters their efforts to “maintain stability” had reduced the number of activists in the city this year.