Every June of the year, the southern Chinese city of Yulin have a dog-eating festival to celebrate the summer solstice. It is estimated that about 10,000 dogs are killed every year and are eaten with lychee and grain alcohol to celebrate the festival. Slain dogs range from strays to breeds of Dalmatian, Labrador even Mastiffs[i].
Dogs were killed by skinning them alive, tearing and smashing them using hammers and chainsaws. Dogs are even boiled alive. People who engage in the said festival publicly torture dogs by dragging and have them run over by a car [ii].
The dog-eating practice in China started way back in the 1700 BC from the northern part and was brought to south of China by nomads who brought with them their customs along with their dogs and its meat [iii].
Dog-eating festival in China has caused an outrage worldwide especially among animal rights activists due to brutality of the festivity. However, in 2009, China drafted a law to punish animal abusers by paying a fine of 6,000 yuan with two weeks imprisonment. Organizations who are caught selling dog and cat meat will be fined with 10,000 to 500,000 Yuan.The national law has yet to be signed until present time[iv].
In 2014, Yulin locals held the festival a week early to avoid controversies. Vendors and restaurants offering dog meat had to cover up the word or chinese character of dog [vi] from their signages to prevent attention from opposiitons[vii].
Yulin is not the only dog-eating festival in China. The Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival was banned for killing thousands of dog in 2011 [viii]. The Jinhua festival is an autumn festival is a local festival that can be traced back 600 years ago where they slaughter thousands of dogs for the festivity.However, in 2011 it was unexpectedly stopped by lol officials after the shame campaign drive by animal activists[ix].
A retired teacher named Yang Xiaoyun paid 7,000 Yuan ($1,100) to rescue 1,000 dogs from being butchered in the 2015 festival.During the past years, animal rights activists have travelled to Yulin to buy and rescue the dogs from being killed as a form of demonstration against the Yulin festival. Animal lovers and even British comedian Ricky Gervais to boycott the festival under the hastag ‘#StopYulin2015 [x].
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is not a tradition at all as it only started in the 1990s. The reason for its existence was was linked to profit and economic growth, however, it wasn’t received well by many. The festival brought negative images of dog theft, criminal activities, unhygienic practices and rabies issues instead of economic benefits[xi].
The Chinese believe that eating dog meat stimulates heat, brings the person good health and luck[xii]. According to the Chinese medical encyclopedia, Bonchogangmog, dog meat is warm with a salty-sour taste which comforts the large and small intestines; strengthen the stomach; supplement marrow to the knees and waist and promotes vigor to men.
China has the second largest case of rabies in the world. In 2007,the Yulin local government admitted that Yulin had the most number of cases with 338 rabies cases between 2002 to 2006. All of the infected people died. The rampant cases of rabies cost Yulin 6.67 million Yuan annually[xiv].