Editor’s Note: This article contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.
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In China’s Guangxi Province, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is set to be held in just a few months. The summer solstice marks the start of this event, which has caused online uproars since it first originated, back in 2009.
Eating dog meat isn’t that unusual in China. In fact, many Chinese citizens see it as a huge part of their culture. To some, dog meat is no different than cow, chicken or lamb. Why attack their customs when no other meat consumption receives such criticism?
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is different, though. If you’re not familiar with it, prepare to have your heart broken for the dogs unfortunate enough to be caught in its wake.
Traditionally, dog meat has been eaten in China to protect consumers from the winter cold and ward off evil spirits. This practice started thousands of years ago.
While it happens in a number of Chinese provinces, Guangxi, in particular, has brought the consumption of dogs into the limelight. The farmers and families in this overwhelmingly poor part of China started the festival in an attempt to make more money.
Since its opening, over 10,000 dogs have been killed and eaten each year during the 10 days the festival is held. While that alone is enough to disgust most people, what’s worse is the treatment the dogs receive.
Not only do the people who participate in this festival think eating dog meat has a spiritual effect, but also they think the way dogs die is an important factor. Apparently, the more adrenaline pumping through a dog’s veins, the better-tasting the meat.
Because of that, the vendors at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival don’t just kill the dogs; they beat them, burn them alive with blowtorches or toss them into boiling pots of water to suffer a terrifying, painful death. Not only that, they do it all in front of the other dogs to increase the adrenaline rush.
The dogs (often stolen from families living in the area) are brought in, trapped in cramped wooden crates and then viciously slaughtered in front of festival-goers.
What’s Being Done
Many Westerners and Chinese citizens alike are actively trying their best to end this horrifying festival. Millions of signatures have been gathered for petitions, and animal rights activists are doing all they can to spread awareness.
Unfortunately, the local government isn’t taking the action that’s needed.
Right before the opening of the 2017 festival, the internet was flooded with news that the sale of dog meat had been officially banned at the Yulin Festival. It seemed that finally this event was coming to an end.
Unfortunately, just days later, the world found out the good news was too good to be true. The sale of dog meat had not, in fact, been banned. Instead, the government authorities and vendors agreed to limit the sales to 2 dog carcasses per stall.
While this limitation drastically cut back on the number of dogs tortured, killed and eaten, it didn’t end the festival altogether. In fact, many activists who attended the festival in opposition witnessed vendors breaking the rule, though authorities were also there to keep an eye on things, and did shut down and fine some of those vendors.
The Current State of the Festival
At this point, the 2018 festival is to be held in June. Despite the millions of signatures gathered and countless activist groups protesting, the Chinese government sees the festival as part of the peoples’ customs and won’t shut it down.
Take a look online, and you’ll find both articles defending this custom and others full-heartedly against it. To an older generation of Chinese — especially ones who lived through years of famine — eating dog meat is normal, no different than eating any other animal.
But does that mean it’s OK for dogs to be hung and tortured to death with a blowtorch — all so the meat tastes better? While the public, authorities and vendors at the festival are aware of how morally wrong this practice is, it has still continued, and likely will this June, too.
There are numerous petitions and animal rights groups taking action, so please join them in opposition of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. These animals are our best friends, not our food.