Chinese police have intercepted a truck carrying 386 dogs to slaughter at the annual dog-meat eating festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday – the day of the summer solstice.
Footage from the scene showed the dogs were crammed into wire cages in poor conditions. On discovering the truck last weekend, animal rights’ activists worried that some of them may be suffering from infectious diseases. So they reported the truck to the police, citing the country’s legislations on epidemic prevention.
Lin Xiong, one of the activists who saw the truck being pulled over by the police, said: “It was horrifying to see so many dogs in such an appalling state, it was like a truck from hell for these poor animals … The dog meat slaughter brings shame on our country and so we will keep fighting until we see an end to this suffering.”
Ahead of this year’s Yulin dog meat festival, which draws a small crowd in the city, Chinese activists found creative ways to save dogs from being killed.
Xiao He, a Shaanxi-based animal rights activist, said he had worked for weeks with fellow activists to go through China’s existing laws and regulations to persuade the authorities to stop the event from happening.
“There are regulations that articulate how to deal with animals, for example legally required quarantine inspection certificates. But clearly those who carried the dogs did not comply with the regulations. We have to remind them as well as the authorities [of those regulations],” He said.
In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said dogs are not “livestock” for eating, but rather companion animals.
Campaigners who have been involved in saving the dogs on board said they were of different breeds, sizes and health conditions. They said they were likely to be stolen household guard dogs or pets, strays grabbed from the streets, or other unknown sources without traceability.
After the police intervention over the weekend, the dogs were sent to be quarantined. Chinese activists told the Guardian that the dogs have now been handed over to Beijing’s Capital Animal Welfare Association, after the traders signed an agreement to relinquish their ownership of the animals.
Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International, a campaign group, said the Yulin authorities were “duped” by the traders who have falsely argued that dog meat consumption is “traditional” and part of the local dietary culture. “Dog meat consumption is supply-driven, driven by the traders, not consumer-driven. The dog slaughter in Yulin is commercial in nature, not cultural,” he said.
Li said that his team on the ground saw Yulin police trying to prevent business owners from making a show of the “festival”.
“Eaters from outside Guangxi used to be sizeable before 2014. This group has gone down drastically particularly since 2020. Most eaters are local and the number has been dwindling.”