A 600-year-old dog eating festival in Qianxi, China was banned this week after a massive social media outcry called for its cancellation. Fifteen thousand dogs are slaughtered annually at the festival, which commemorates a battle fought in the town. Before the battle, an invading army killed all the dogs in the town of Qianxi to prevent being exposed by barking dogs. After capturing the town, the army ate the dog meat to celebrate.
From then until the '80s, the dogs were killed immediately before being cooked and served. Then the Chinese government intervened and banned on-site butchery. But the practice began to creep back into the festival over the past few years. Pictures of carnage from the dog eating festival made their way on to the internet, incensing thousands. This year, many of them took to the internet to call for the festival to be banned. The Chinese government reacted by banning the festival.
According to Global Post, sympathy for dogs has increased markedly among the Chinese over the past few decades; keeping them as pets was banned during the Cultural Revolution, but rates of ownership have risen since then.
There have been some calls for a total ban on eating cats and dogs in the country, it remains both common and socially acceptable. It's possible, though, that this recent move could signal a further shift in government sentiment towards the side of a ban; rumors of such a ban started to escalate as early as June.