New signs of hope and despair on dog and cat meat trade in China, with Yulin festival looming

By on June 13, 2017 with 25 Comments

This week, Chinese citizens recoiled after learning the story of a man who had baited 500 stray and owned cats with sparrows and other caged birds, captured them, crowded the poor animals into small cages, and made arrangements to sell them to restaurants for human consumption. Authorities discovered a cache of cats in the back of a small truck, close to death and mewing faintly in the heat, the Washington Post reported.

Even though selling dog and cat meat is legal in the country, residents met the news with a mix of surprise and revulsion. Rank-and-file Chinese view dogs and cats as companions and not food, with surveys reinforcing that just a small percentage of people in the country eat dog and cat meat.

Last month, I shared news of a temporary ban on dog meat sales at a controversial festival in Yulin, China, where butchers slaughter thousands of dogs every year. Local government officials have become wary of the international censure this event has brought to the city. Just a week before the festival’s scheduled start date of June 21, a public attitude survey shows that the local community doesn’t buy the argument that the dog meat festival equates to good business.

The survey, conducted by our partners, the Beijing’s Capital Animal Protection Association and Vshine Animal Protection Association, in partnership with the city’s municipal government, found that an overwhelming majority of the city’s residents, 72 percent, do not regularly consume dog meat. Although there is a higher percentage of dog meat eaters in Yulin than in the rest of the country, dog meat consumption is far from a mainstream culinary practice. Many who consume dog meat are chance eaters who eat it unknowingly or accidentally in social gatherings or dinner parties.

The temporary ban on dog meat sales at Yulin is expected to take effect June 15, and it includes heavy penalties for violations. As is so often the case, Chinese officials have not formally confirmed the ban, but multiple organizations on the ground who have spoken to Yulin traders in their own local dialect, have strong reason to believe it’s accurate.

Last year’s festival was a pale version of what it once was after the government disallowed the display of dogs on restaurant tables. This led to a drop in the number of animals killed and visitors to the festival. If this year’s ban on the sale of dog meat in the run-up to the event is properly enforced, it should accelerate the spiraling of the event downward.

Dog meat traders created the Yulin event in 2010, and although they have falsely tried to promote it as a cultural and historical festival, their effort is increasingly seen as a marketing ploy and a concoction. In a turn of fate, it’s actually provided a global rallying cry against the entire dog meat business. The media have publicized images of starving and thirsty dogs, transported over long distances in packed trucks with no access to food or water, and then callously and unceremoniously killed, skinned, and cooked. The whole brew has caused a horribly foul taste in the mouths of dog lovers in China and around the world, and prompted them to step up campaigns everywhere.

In addition to an animal welfare calamity, the festival is also now rightly labeled as a public health threat. China has the second highest number of human rabies cases in the world, and the Guangxi Autonomous Region, where Yulin is located, and the city of Yulin, have historically had China’s highest incidence of rabies. Mass transport, handling, and slaughter expose workers in the dog meat trade, who are mostly unvaccinated, to the deadly disease. The World Health Organization warns that the dog trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera by 20 times.

As China specialist Peter Li of HSI says, eating dogs and cats is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice, including in Yulin. Many Chinese people find it distasteful to cook dog meat in their own kitchens. The enterprise brings no riches but only opprobrium and disgrace to the participants, and the city of Yulin would be well advised to bring this spectacle to a permanent close and treat the dog-meat enterprise as a sad footnote in the history of this community.

Companion Animals, Humane Society International

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  1. Hedi kiss says:

    This is a horrible practice no more abuse to dogs and cats

  2. Julie Crim says:

    So, what has become of the cats in the first paragraph?! You start with 500 cats, then move directly into a piece entirely about dogs, with no mention again of the fate of these cats! This event is horrific and preys upon both dogs and cats but over and over again the feline victims are marginalized and the focus is always on the canine victims. All victims of this annual event need protection and rescue. All victims need the world to know they exist. As long as you protect and save only the dogs, you will only push these horrible people to prey even more on the cats who are barely recognized in this tragedy.

  3. Nelly Brisol says:


  4. Doris Muller says:

    Thank you to all who wage the war against the horrors committed to defenseless animals.

    Now, if only we could get thoughtless, greedy, selfish human predators to think about cows, chickens, pigs, fish, sheep, etc like we think about, and love, dogs and cats. True to form, humans are guilty of condemning the wrongs of others while we continue to “drink the koolaid” (follow along blindly) to our own atrocities, and to console ourselves with egregious justifications.

    “Actually, it is absolutely necessary for everyone to become vegan, in the same way that it is absolutely necessary for everyone to never rape, torture, murder, or pay others to inflict harm on their behalf. Veganism is necessary in the same way that justice is necessary. Indeed, veganism is a matter of fundamental justice–not a diet, not a personal choice, not a lifestyle. Veganism is simply about the respect we owe our fellow beings, not about the charity we may or may not find convenient to extend.” –Joanna Lucas, Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
    Compassion for “ALL” animals should extend to your plate

    Compassion for “ALL” animals should extend to your plate.

    • Conchita says:

      You’re wasting your time here! There is no ban, they made the whole thing up! I don’t know how many cats so far, but there is already over 30 TONS of dog meat. Marc Ching is there right now confirming this!

  5. Kimber Frank says:

    This in HORRIFIC and needs to be stopped. There should also be a ban on selling cat meat! Absolutely revolting and I hope there is a very special place in HELL for all those who participate.

  6. Kimber Frank says:

    This is HORRIFIC and needs to be stopped. There should also be a ban on selling cat meat! Absolutely revolting and I hope there is a very special place in HELL for all those who participate.

  7. Lee Ryan Coston says:

    What kind of heartless creature could treat a dog this way and then after the abuse kill It and eat It?

    I will never understand it and don’t care to try. I don’t think I could eat a dog if I was starving.

    • Sharon Feldberg says:

      When you know animals, you soon realize that there is no difference in their feelings and behaviors. All animals are suffering terribly now. Veganism is the only solution The factory farming enterprise commits suffering on a monumental scale. People who eat meat keep this atrocity in business. My dog has a vegan diet and is very healthy

  8. Maria says:

    These are cruel crimes committed against innocent dogs and cats. Please finish it now. How can they be such a murderer. Lack of affection en psychopath, and such people must be eliminated from the society. Must also be severe penalties. You can not be rich with blood. The world will end with this barbarity.

  9. Genie Lynn says:

    Not true that there is a ban…
    (from someone who is live on the ground in Yulin right now)

    In the meantime, publishing false information such as this has caused a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have condemned the Yulin festival and called upon China to adopt much needed animal welfare laws is now dead in the water and will not make it to the floor for a vote. It has also been the reason for fewer activists and media to go to Yulin this year, ensuring more animals will suffer and die.

    • Peter J. Li says:

      I am the China specialist for Humane Society International. HSI and local Chinese animal protection organizations were alerted to the comments by Yulin’s dog meat vendors claiming that they were approached by government representatives and told to stop selling dog meat in the week leading up to June 21st, the scheduled date for the Yulin dog meat festival. Like Wayne writes in the blog, Chinese officials have not talked about a ban, but we have confirmed this news six times through local contacts who speak the local dialect.
      The video linked in the comment supports reports that dog meat sales in that particular market have gone down significantly. Our contacts were encouraged to see so many empty stands at the Yulin Dongkou Market where the dog meat vendors used to be busy chopping the dogs and selling their meat. Our contacts have just reported to us with a fresh video on police actions driving vendors away at Nanqiao Market on the afternoon of June 16th. There are expected to be more law enforcement actions in Yulin.
      As regards the Congressional resolution, HSI has worked with Congressman Hastings’ office on this resolution since its inception, and we are among its biggest champions.
      HSI, and I personally, have been working in mainland China for more than a decade to combat the dog meat problem. There are an estimated 20 million dogs stolen from the streets who end up in the dog meat trade there. We work with our local partners in China during the Yulin event and year-round to end this cruel trade.


  10. Goldie zeidman says:

    This “temporary ban” is a lie just to keep us activists quiet. For someone who is supposed to love dogs this is only telling people lies! Marc Ching is there in Yulin china right now and took a live video this morning. It is very well still happening and thousands of dogs are being tortured and brutally killed as we speak. Not to mention being stolen from vets, people’s backyards and on the streets.

  11. Rob adams says:

    If you reserve the right to delete misinformation, perhaps you should delete your claim about a so called ban”. There is footage today, June 15, 2017 in Yulin, where dogs and cats are currently being butchered. That, by the way, is the definition of misinformation. If you really care, you will take back your statement which has left these animals at their mercy- where there will be none….:(

  12. Patricia Gangloff says:

    I too am concerned that cats appear to have been left out of efforts to outlaw Chinese domestic animal consumption. What is being done on that front? In the US, I believe more cats are reported as rabid than dogs—is no one positing feline-to-human rabies transmission as an equally serious inducement for Chinese officials to end this horrific abuse? HSUS, can you provide any updates?

  13. Janine K says:

    Weil Niemand das Recht hat Leben nur um Provit rauszuschlagen auf welche Art aber besonders diese Art & Weise zu nehmen!!! Menschen die so leichtfertig & gleichgültig mit Leben & liebevollen Geschöpfen umgehen haben Ihr Leben nicht verdient. Im Land der Sonne wird von Karma geredet wie meint ihr wohl sieht Euer Karma aus!!?

  14. Francie Campbell says:

    The trucks are coming now to Yulin….the information on the ground is that none of the vendors who buy and sell in dog meat know about the ban…..this is not correct information about the possible ban….people should still be out on the streets to protest this barbaric practice….There is a protest in Sydney, Australia ….we must do all we can to shut this industry down. Thank you.

  15. Patricia Rose says:

    Why are you solely concentrating on dogs when cats are being do e the same, I signed the dog and cat petition solely to help both not just one

  16. Patricia Rose says:

    I cry when I see The Horde unto these animals over there the dogs and the cats hate is such a strong word it’s almost got me to that point

  17. M3lody says:

    Stop this horror evil festival !!! It hurts me 😪very much that the cats&dogs are killed in a terrible way😿 I HATE THOSE PEOPLE WHO HURTS ANIMALS karma is coming to all those evil people!!!!!😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡 i pray for all cats&dogs and that they rescued all the animals🙏🏻

  18. Evelyn Lennon says:

    This is a THANK YOU from all the animals you have rescued. They say they have no voice, but they do say I’m so happy you found us, and gave us a new home. We love all of you, for all that you have done. We will never forget that you took us from hell to heaven, we are so happy now. LOL

    Love, US

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