Animal advocates and dog lovers all over the world recently celebrated the news that there would be a ban on the brutal sale of dog meat at China’s Yulin Festival this year.
In May, Humane Society International, along with the Duo Duo Project, received reports from Chinese activists, along with vendors that the Yulin government will ban the sale of dog meat during the 10-day event.
“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,” Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International, said at the time.
Sadly, This Dogs Life has learned that this information is incorrect. Government officials have confirmed that while they do not support the Yulin Festival, they can do little in terms of opposing the wishes of the people.
Marc Ching of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation met with the Yulin Food and Drug Administration, which oversees dog meat sales and food quality control of meat within the city. In a statement, he said he was told “there is no ban on dog meat sales during the festival as some animal rights groups have claimed.”
Ching and Suki Su of AHWF have also appealed to the two largest dog meat markets, the
DongKuo Market and NanQiao Market, according to a statement. The spoke to over 20 dog meat vendors, none of which had any knowledge of a pending ban on dog meat sales. When Ching met with the owner of the largest slaughterhouse in Yulin, he not only claimed that the festival would go on as usual, but also boasted that his sales this year will surpass 2,000 dogs.
“Restaurants have already begun putting in order, and trucks will start their travel to the province,” one vendor told Ching. While he admitted that this is a “sensitive” time, he stated that there have been no protests like they have had in previous years.
And the activist is experiencing first hand the impact.
“Marc Ching is on the ground in China right now and has footage and images showing that hundreds of dogs are being sold and transport trucks are bringing in pets to Yulin,” a spokesperson for Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation told This Dog’s Life.
The Human Society International and the Duo Duo Project (a grassroots non-profit dedicated to ending the dog and cat meat trade in China) has acknowledged that the effectiveness of any ban relies on the authorities experiencing no public disorder in response.
When the dog traders, who are extremely unruly and influential, threaten public disorder, the brutal killing and sale of cat and dog meat continues, Wendy Higgins, the director of international media at HSUS, told This Dog’s Life.
Every year, thousands of dogs and cats are tortured before being killed in China because the belief is that this makes the meat taste better. Many of these dogs are stolen family pets and others are raised on horrific dog meat farms.
Despite this terrible news, activists on the ground refuse to give up. Ching and his Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation volunteers intercepted a truck that was transporting dogs to Yulin. Four of the dogs had microchips, including a golden retriever and a terrier — proof that dogs are being kidnapped and stolen for the festival. Some dogs on the truck were already dead and others severely injured.
The dogs in that truck are now safely in a shelter in Changsha, waiting to be treated by a medical response team. More trucks have been intercepted. Dogs are being scanned for microchips and reported to authorities as stolen property. The AHWF is devoted to getting these dogs back to their loving families.
Ching is urging the public at this time to stand up and make their voice heard. “I feel so sad for the dogs that will die and suffer because of these mistruths,” he says in a statement. “Usually there is a huge international pressure before the coming days of the festival, but this year there is not. The only way we will see Yulin end is by people continuing to stand up to speak for the animals.”