The Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, which serves up 15,000 dogs and cats, will start as planned on the Summer Solstice, undeterred by an alleged local, temporary ban on dog meat sales, which Chinese officials and dog meat vendors have disavowed.
The festival was started in 2010 as an economic strategy to boost the dog meat trade. It is a 10-day celebration of cruelty, with dogs and cats bludgeoned, often skinned alive, and roasted (alive) over a fire—while the crowd cheers. Some of the dogs are stolen pets, with their collars still in place.
While slow, progress has been made by humane organizations and activists: the size of the Yulin festival has declined, and there is increasing outrage and pressure both within China and internationally. This year a petition garnered 11M signatures calling for the end of the festival.
The path forward is likely to be protracted. Earlier this year China passed a “Foreign NGOs Law” which scrutinizes and requires official approval of the work of foreign activist organizations in that country. Until organizations like Humane Society International, a forerunner working to end the suffering of animals in Asia’s dog meat trade, receive permission from the Chinese government to continue their work, activities will be led by Chinese partners and activists.
In a country where eating cats and dogs is a long-standing practice in certain areas (as it is in some other Asian countries) a mindset shift to compassion—or at least to less cruel practices—likely will require continual, multi-tiered efforts to legislate change internally, to bring awareness and gently educate, and to provide viable alternatives. A substantive transformation in behavior and norms likely comes from cultural influences (we humans are, after all, communal animals) and a resultant internal shift in us that arises from considering things in a different way than we have before. Ultimately, hope lies in our ability to see animals as sentient beings.
In the meantime, consider signing this petition: Yulin petition
Click here for information on adopting dog meat trade dogs: Dog meat trade dog adoption