Home of China’s Dog Meat Festival Defiant amid Outcry

Home of China’s Dog Meat Festival Defiant amid Outcry

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Butchered dogs are transported to a vendor's stall at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
Butchered dogs are transported to a vendor's stall at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Joyce Zhou and Christian Shepherd
YULIN, China (Reuters)

Residents of China’s southern city of Yulin defended eating dog meat to celebrate the summer solstice on Thursday, 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.

 

A man walks with his pet dog as he talks to a vendor during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
A man walks with his pet dog as he talks to a vendor who sells dog meat at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

 

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.

“Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. Popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong,” Yulin resident Wang Yue told Reuters.

 

Butchered dogs are transported to a vendor's stall at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
Butchered dogs are transported to a vendor’s stall at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

“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.”

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.

 

A woman carries a butchered dog during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
A woman carries a butchered dog at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

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.

Opinions on Chinese social media were divided.

Calls from animal lovers to boycott or cancel the festival provoked a defence of local tradition and accusations that activists were disturbing public order.

 

A woman carries a butchered dog during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
A woman carries a butchered dog at a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

International animal rights groups say putting pressure on the dog meat trade has become harder after China stepped up scrutiny of foreign groups by requiring them to register with police.

Chinese activists are trying new tactics to convince authorities to end the dog meat trade.

 

 

Zhang Huahua, a university professor at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou province, complained to Yulin authorities that the festival infringed environmental protection regulations.

“The messy slaughter of numerous dogs transported to Yulin without inspection severely damages public order, popular custom and the environment,” Zhang said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Authorities told Zhang her letter would be processed in line with regulations.

 

(Reporting by Joyce Zhou and Christian Shepherd; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

 

Customers toast as they watching the World Cup 2018 match, over a dog meat dish at a dog meat market ahead of a local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region
Customers toast as they watching the World Cup 2018 match, over a dog meat dish at a dog meat market ahead of a local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, China June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

Butchered dogs displayed for sale during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
Butchered dogs displayed for sale at a stall inside a meat market during the local dog meat festival, in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

A cameraman is surrounded by local security guard outside a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
A cameraman is surrounded by local security guard outside a market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

Butchered dogs are seen on sale at a stall inside a meat market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
Butchered dogs are seen on sale at a stall inside a meat market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

Butchered dogs are sold at a stall inside a meat market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin
Butchered dogs are sold at a stall inside a meat market during the local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu