Dogs, cats rescued from Yulin – as fight to end the spectacle gathers momentum

By on June 15, 2016 with 26 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

This week, Humane Society International’s Peter Li, working with Chinese activists, helped save 29 dogs and five cats from the butcher’s block in Yulin, China, where preparations are on for an annual dog meat festival that begins June 21.

“It was a great sense of relief to leave the slaughterhouse cages empty for one day at least,” said Peter, who negotiated the release of the animals from a slaughterhouse in Yulin. “The dogs and cats were clearly afraid, especially the older dogs who looked very fearful. But once they realized that we were not there to hurt them, but in fact we would make their suffering stop at last, they very quickly responded with licks and wagging tails.”

HSI’s Peter Li (above right) helps tend to a puppy rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse. The dogs are now being evaluated and treated at a veterinary hospital in preparation for adoption.

HSI’s Peter Li (above right) helps tend to a puppy rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse. The dogs are now being evaluated and treated at a veterinary hospital in preparation for adoption. Photo by Mai Zi/CAPP

Like most of the dogs and cats butchered at this event, the terrified animals, including puppies and kittens, were being held in squalid conditions, starved, and without water. Some of the dogs wore collars, suggesting they were pets stolen by dog thieves to fuel the trade, an increasingly common crime across China.

Rescue operations are just one in a number of steps we are taking in Yulin to end the suffering of dogs and cats at this so-called festival. Stopping the entire bloody spectacle is a top priority within our organization – as much as ending the confinement of farm animals in industrial agriculture, stopping the seal hunt in Canada, and adopting felony-level penalties everywhere for malicious cruelty.

Over the last few weeks, HSI and activists from China Animal Protection Power have helped rescue 500 dogs from trucks headed for slaughter.

Over the last few weeks, HSI and activists from China Animal Protection Power have helped rescue 500 dogs from trucks headed for slaughter. Photo by CAPP

Since the Yulin festival opened in 2010, we have helped bring down the number of dogs slaughtered each year from 15,000 to around 2,000-3,000 last year. Through a concerted communications effort , we have focused the world’s attention on this awful event. Still, the fight is far from over, and in the past few weeks, HSI and activists from China Animal Protection Power have helped rescue 500 dogs from trucks headed for slaughter. In April of this year, Peter and a team of HSI investigators traveled to Yulin to document some of the horrors that precede the festival. They found that as many as 300 dogs were being slaughtered each day in the city, weeks before the festival even began.

We are keeping up the pressure on the Chinese government to end this cruel spectacle. Last week, we delivered a petition to Chinese authorities signed by an astonishing 11 million people around the world and in China, demanding an end to the festival. The petition was also presented to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom by several celebrities, including actress Carrie Fisher of Star Wars, and members of parliament.

An activist and her dog protest the dog meat festival outside a government office in Yulin.

An activist and her dog protest the dog meat festival outside a government office in Yulin. Photo by AP Images for HSI

The Yulin dog meat festival began as an attempt to encourage tourism, but as the overwhelming response to the petition shows, the event has brought China nothing but international censure and condemnation. Even within China, where only a small and declining minority eats dog meat, animal activists have demanded an end to this barbaric event. Increasingly, young Chinese view dogs and cats as pets, not food.

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 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.

All of the 34 animals we helped rescue are now safe in a shelter where they are being evaluated and treated by veterinarians before being prepared for adoption within China, and in the United Kingdom and the United States. Meanwhile, our work to stop the dog meat festival continues at a fever pitch, and we’re committed to staying the course until Yulin is better known as the place where a dog meat festival once occurred.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Humane Society International

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  1. David Bernazani says:

    I’m hopeful that this will be the last year this dreadful “festival” takes place. It has been shown to be an abysmal failure for its intended purpose, to attract tourism. I fully expect to see it cancelled next year, thanks mainly to groups like HSI.

  2. marie olsson says:


  3. Heike Karimzadeh says:

    What a heros job-its a big luck for these poor dogs-Im happy-very great ?????

  4. Darlene BROWN says:


  5. Michelle Haynes says:

    My heart goes out to these animals every year. I find myself having nightmares and crying myself to sleep. As much as I promote this cause, it never seems good or fast enough. I have donated to HSI, Soi Dog, ASPCA, HSPCA and have posted to Twitter and Facebook, but I feel like I am spinning my wheels. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. I already rescue strays and I am ready to take it to the next level. Use me- this is my calling.

  6. Diana says:

    Thank you for not neglecting the fact that cats are also part of this horrific event

  7. Carole Wilson says:

    My heart is breaking for all those poor innocent dogs and cats who suffer the most vilest of cruelties one could ever imagine , viewing the images is worse than a horror movie. I have never been the same person since finding out such evil exists within our planet. My heart is heavy all the time , my stomach churns , I cry a lot and could never have a full night sleep. I sign every petition and donate every penny I have and yet we can’t save them all. I want to save them all . We need this to end , this is also inflicting emotional trauma to people around the globe. Words could never express how those poor animals must feel. The people of China who participate or condon this vile evil trade are not just mutalating these poor animals , you are mutalating your children’s future of being accepted within a world who is rising against you. If you do not stop this now your own children will carry this burden set by you with your evil actions. Boycotting your country’s produce will affect families who work intelligently hard within the manufacturing industry, poverty will eventually increase and this will be the workmanship of all you evil men and woman who participate or condon this feast evil ( festival) trade. Stop this now

    • Nancy messer says:

      I couldn’t have said it better….I too can relate to the awful sadness and pain when I think of all those sweet furry animals being beat,boiled, skinned and murdered…This is awful and it goes on in many countries .There needs to be a end to these horrific acts done to animals…………..If only my dream was to come true that NO OTHER LIVING THING WILL DIE DUE TO THE VILE HUMANS OF THE WORLD>> Thank heaven we are getting some sweet things out !

    • Olimpia anzalone says:

      Dear carol,I hear what you are saying,I have been unable to stop crying for all of them,and as the yulin festival was approaching ,I was on edge,and I could not think straight,I asked God to help me copewith all the horror I saw in those photos,as hard as they were to look at,I know I had to find out the outcomes of all the rescues being done,God bless all those good people,I am all the way here in Long Island,newyorkand I have been spreading the word,as well,it has to stop!??mabeywe all can make a difference with all our voices,it’s not just China there are other countries doing this ,I will donate what I can to the humane society the photos will remain with me till the day I die,I’m afraid.olimpia.

  8. Elvira Kirch says:

    Thank you HSUS for your leadership and fortitude on this and all other animal welfare issues. I think the world now is a witness to the brutality, barbarism and savagery of the Yulin participants. My family is boycotting anything made in China over this issue alone.

  9. Vilma says:

    It has to stop China, if u want the advantages of trading with the West, and u want 2 b accepted in the civil World, you have to start respecting life, and the weak and the voiceless

  10. Rita Vallet says:

    I urge everyone to spread the word about this horrific, ghastly, barbaric event in which dogs and cats are tortured to death. Give money to the organizations that fight this and call your federal representatives to urge them to censure this insane cruelty. I have given a donation today. And don’t buy products/clothing/goods that are made in China, although that is hard to do. I try to buy products that are made elsewhere, not in China. I will never travel to China as long as this is happening. Make the pledge and spread the word.

  11. riot says:

    la danse de la vie est une fête gouverner par toutes creatures vivants sur ma sainte soeur terre Mais l animal humain pue la vénalité il est pourris d addiction alors que sa première chance et de pleurer d Amour envers touts les êtres vivants l horreur dans la pire des insultes qui est l indifférence.

  12. laura Hannasch says:

    I hope the Humane society would put a stop to all those dogs and cats being slaughtered for meat they should do the same thing to china to see how those people like it be slaughtered thats not right I feel sad about all those animals being killed

  13. Jilian Norlander says:

    Do not. Forget. The cats.

  14. Cindy Rock says:

    If China doesn’t stop this barbaric practice, we will stop buying all products from China. We are a big world. Do not think there are no consequences. Stop killing dogs and cats for food or fur!

  15. Lori P says:

    I can’t sleep, eat or stop thinking about these poor babies and what unimaginable suffering they are going through. Every year at this time – I can’t concentrate on anything else. How can anyone do this? How is this a festival? I don’t understand – for what? Suffering and torture to make them feel powerful. What a bunch of sickos. They are nothing and I wish nothing but the worst horror and suffering on those that are doing this. IT MUST STOP!!!!!!!!!!!

    • juce says:

      Don’t STOP keep going keep moving keep praying keep posting join us on Twitter and stop buying CHINA made products force our government to make more U SO goods, vote for people who have strong values against climate change and honoring animal sanctuaries. Don’t use makeup and toiletries and packaging from any Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnamese’ parts of Turkey, all practice this

  16. A Cagle says:

    Immeasurable thanks to all of the governments, organizations, and most importantly people who are giving these poor souls a voice. Without people like you helping, the world would be diminished. Thank You!

  17. Lily Green says:

    there is horrific abuse to animals all over the world and since ive become a care2 member (a petition site, I seriously recommend joining!!!) its shocking to see its never ending. ive recently found out that YULIN ISNT THE ONLY “FESTIVAL”, there is one called boknal in south korea, so there needs to be awareness for that too. Plus a billion other disgusting “festivals”. ive also recently found out that the Chinese sell LIVE baby animals like lizards and turtles as KEYRINGS, in plastic pouches filled with coloured liquid, they also sell chicks that are dyed colours and sell them as toys… im so glad there are people who are saving these poor animals. you guys are heroes 🙂 xxxx

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