By Congressman Alcee L. Hastings and Lisa Vanderpump
Every year, more than 10,000 dogs are rounded up and sold for food at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. Furthermore, over 10 million are slaughtered annually in China alone.
Animal rights groups have found that a large number of these dogs are stolen pets or strays grabbed from the streets. Many are still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouses, having been transported across provinces in overcrowded cages for days or weeks without food or water.
The conditions they endure are unimaginable: in many instances their mouths are wired shut and legs bound. When they are ultimately slaughtered, the methods used are some of the most inhumane possible: they are blow-torched alive, skinned alive, boiled alive, or merely beaten to death.
"Dogs in two slaughterhouses were standing in the pools of blood from dogs slaughtered in front of them. But these dogs had died mentally many times already," described Peter Li, China Policy Specialist for Humane Society International, in an April editorial in the International Business Times after investigating a series of Yulin slaughterhouses. "They were uncharacteristically stoic, expressionless, and quiet when I approached them. Their quietness was thundering. They had been conquered psychologically after going through the torment of seeing other dogs brutally killed before their eyes."
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival was launched in 2010 by dog meat traders as a commercial enterprise to boost lagging sales. Since then, it has grown into what is now an annual mass slaughter. The killings often take place in residential areas and public marketplaces, imposing scenes of extreme animal cruelty on local residents, including young children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also linked the preparation of dog meat for consumption to the human health risk of exposure to a multitude of diseases, including rabies and cholera.
Millions of people in the China, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have signed petitions calling on the Chinese government to end the festival, which is scheduled to begin on June 21, 2016.
In Congress, Congressman Hastings introduced a bipartisan resolution, H. Res. 752, condemning the annual festival in Yulin and calling on the Chinese government to prohibit the dog meat trade outright. The issue was brought to his attention by Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd, who launched the Vanderpump Dog Foundation, the mission of which is to impact global legislation, education, and the overall treatment of animals. The power couple also launched a petition against the festival -- opponents can sign at http://stopyulinforever.org/. Their mission has now become both a nationally and internationally recognized movement.
Now, Hasting's H. Res. 752 legislation will hopefully expedite the diminishing of the cruel trade of dog meat across the globe. He has also led a number of efforts to contact key individuals, including Secretary of State John Kerry, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang, urging them to take action to end the Yulin festival.
We still have a long way to go. Although the Yulin city government withdrew as a sponsor of the Dog Meat Festival, there has been no meaningful action to enforce China's existing laws and regulations on animal disease control, food safety, trans-provincial dog transport, or youth protection, all of which are breached by the dog meat trade.
Congressman Hastings and The Vanderpump Dog Foundation are working closely with multiple organizations, including Humane Society International and Duo Duo Animal Welfare Organization, who have strongly advocated for the prohibition of festival and dog meat trade.
Together, we can stop this horrific practice and protect the lives of these dogs, our companions.
ABOUT: Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.
ABOUT: Philanthropist, Dog Activist and TV personality, Lisa Vanderpump is the co-founder of World Dog Day, raising awareness of abused and neglected dogs worldwide. She also co-founded Stop Yulin Forever, an organization dedicated to ending the annual dog meat festival in Yulin, China; a movement & protest which she featured on her hit BRAVO-TV show.