For the past seven years, the Chinese city of Yulin has celebrated the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, created by the city’s dog meat traders out of sheer profit motives. The animals were trucked in from all over the country, confined to small cages, brutally slaughtered, often in front of other dogs waiting for their turn and before terrified young children. This isn’t a centuries-old tradition, as the dog meat traders have falsely claimed. It was the blatant murder of thousands of dogs, many of whom were stolen pets and members of their loving families.
The festival is not yet over. However, we have just heard that a temporary ban on dog meat sale would take place on June 15 until the end of the “festival.” The Humane Society International (HSI) and the Duo Duo Project reported that the Yulin government had notified the street vendors, market traders, and restaurant owners to stop selling dog meat during the “festival.”
The ban is to take effect a week before the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is set to begin on June 21st, the summer solstice. It will be strictly enforced through monetary fines and in some cases incarceration.
It will be strictly enforced through monetary fines and in some cases incarceration.
Through its international division HSI, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been working tirelessly throughout the year to not only stop the Yulin Dog Festival but also end the dog meat trade in Asia.
HSI has been working in mainland China in the last decade. It is the leader in the global campaign against the dog meat trade. In its press release, while HSI commended the temporary ban, it urged the Yulin authorities to take the additional steps needed to make the ban permanent; to penalize all inbound dog trucks with dogs and cats without proper documents; to strengthen food safety law enforcement; to close down dog slaughter operations; and to build a government facility for the accommodation of confiscated dogs and cats shipped illegally.
Ending Yulin’s mass dog slaughter promoted as a “festival” is no Western imposition. Animal lovers in China were the first to stand up against the absurdity of the dog meat traders in Yulin. Across China, there is a growing animal protection movement recognizing that dogs are companions, not dinner. In the last seven years, Chinese activists have stopped trucks filled with dogs bound for the slaughterhouses. They have saved tens of thousands of dogs from slaughter. The dog meat trade has been put on the defendant stand in the trial of public opinion. Chinese celebrities have given their most vocal support for a ban on the trade. In 2016, Chinese legislators proposed to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade. The proposal received support from more than 9 million citizens in an online survey.
The Chinese fight for ending the dog meat trade has supporters around the world. Last year, 11 million people signed petitions condemning the Yulin dog meat festival. The petitions were sent to the national and Yulin governments.
While the ban on dog meat sale in Yulin is temporary, it signals to the world that China can change. It is my hope that a ban on eating dog meat anywhere in China will become law and the city of Yulin will be recognized for correcting a historical wrong. Yulin officials should stand on the right side of the history.