Despite several protests by animal rights groups in recent years, the annual dog meat festival in Yulin is taking place as scheduled in China’s southern Guangxi autonomous region.
The local government has downplayed its role in the event following negative publicity in the foreign media, but there has been no visible change on the ground with thousands of dogs still being butchered, am730 reported.
Yulin’s annual “Summer Lychee and Dog Meat Festival”, which falls on summer solstice every year and June 22 this year, has been held since the late 1990s.
The local catering industry has been promoting the event, claiming ancient herbal medicine books say that eating litchi and dog meat together can help people overcome the negative effects of the hot and humid weather.
While some Chinese argue that the festival is part of local tradition, the mass-killing of dogs has drawn intense fire from animal lovers, including many celebrities.
Ahead of the 2015 event, animal protection groups put up in Yulin a 20-meter-long banner bearing the message “Don’t hurt me”, along with numerous pictures and videos that seek to deter people from animal cruelty.
To prevent conflicts between dog meat sellers and animal lovers, the local government sent out police officers on Sunday to ask dog meat sellers to move their booths to less conspicuous places.
Media reports have quoted animal protection groups as saying that some individual dog meat sellers were hoping to make as much as 100,000 yuan (US$16,125) from the festival.
The annual event in Yulin has once again sparked a fierce online debate. Some netizens argue that eating dog meat is no different from eating pork, and that people should be allowed to make their own choice.
But animal rights groups want a halt to the event, pointing to the savage butchery of tens of thousands of creatures, many of them stolen from their owners.
Activists have provided photographic and video evidence of how frightened animals are put in tiny wire cages and transported overland to Yulin in grueling journeys before being slaughtered in street markets or in mass-slaughter houses.
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