This week, Peter Li, China specialist with Humane Society International (HSI), arrived in Yulin in China’s Guangxi province – a city that is about to host an infamous annual event where thousands of dogs are slaughtered for meat. He found the town uneasy and alert to growing concerns at home and abroad about this culinary monstrosity. All signs in restaurants advertising dog meat have been removed and dishes featuring dog meat have been taken off the menu. A slaughterhouse Peter visited had no dogs around, although there was evidence of dog slaughter, principally in the form of hair left behind after the clean-up operation.
“Local authorities,” Peter wrote, “are under tremendous pressure…activists and journalists are converging in Yulin from across the country.”
It’s better than it was in 2012, when the killing was all out in the open and the streets of Yulin were painted red with the blood of dogs. Thousands of dogs crammed in cages and transported over great distances arrived at the Yulin dog meat festival that year– traumatized, sick, exhausted, hungry and dying. In the end, they were bludgeoned to death, in front of other dogs.
Although the festival is still slated to take place, there has been a change in attitude, particularly among the public and Chinese media, and it’s got the dog meat traders and the authorities in Yulin on the defensive. A lot of that is due to the work being done by HSI partner groups on the ground in China such as Vshine, Shoushan of Guangdong, Xi’An Xijin, Capital Animal Welfare Association and Animals Asia Foundation.
Our partner groups have mobilized thousands of Chinese in a series of public protests held at key venues, sending a strong message to local authorities that brutality brings no tourists or economic profit—only shame and stigma.
Last year, 46,000 supporters from around the world signed our pledge against the cruelty, and our campaign continues to grow. This month alone, more than 100,000 people have signed on to express their outrage, and we’re letting authorities know the spotlight is on them. HSI partner groups have joined activists and protestors to rally against the festival, including at a recent event in Dalian in northeast China, where more than 1,000 supporters and dozens of dogs represented Vshine to protest the Yulin event. Yesterday, HSI partner groups in China held a protest in front of the mayor’s office in Yulin, and instantly images of the protest swept across Chinese media.
Our partners met with Yulin's Food Safety Office and submitted an investigative report on shocking violations by dog meat traders, including fake certificates issued in provinces thousands of miles north of Guangxi that illustrate how far the dogs must travel under terrible conditions.
The dog meat festival culminates on June 21 in Yulin, much to the horror of dog lovers in China and the world over. Small cages packed with frightened dogs, carried on the backs of motorcycles, are already arriving in the city. But we can also confront this reality knowing that Peter and HSI and our friends in China are there to bear witness, to ensure that international attention remains focused on Yulin, and to continue our efforts to convince Chinese authorities that this barbaric trade in dog meat has to stop once and for all.
The HSUS and HSI want the dog meat trade ended in China and in any other place where it finds any favor, whether out in the open at a festival or in some dark, dingy corner.