It was a horrible sight to witness, says Peter Li, China Specialist for Humane Society International. In the infamous slaughterhouses of Yulin, China, groups of dogs huddled in cages, trembling, silent, hyper-alert to their awaited fate. The dogs had been dropped off by trucks coming in from across China, and had been without food and water for days. Some were obviously stolen, still with their collars on, and many had sunken eyes and other signs of illness. From their cages, they could see other dogs being bludgeoned and disemboweled, and hear their cries.
“The dogs and cats were visibly traumatized, their spirits broken from their terrifying ordeal,” Peter told me.
What’s just as shocking is that this canine slaughter happens not only during the city’s annual festival of horrors, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, but year round. This week, in Beijing, HSI launched its 2016 global campaign to end the Yulin dog meat festival, which begins on June 21, with our Chinese partner groups, Beijing’s Capital Welfare Association, Hong Kong SPCA, Ta Foundation, and VShine Animal Protection Association. We’ve also released shocking video and photographic evidence from an investigation conducted by Peter and HSI investigators who recently visited Yulin’s slaughterhouses. The investigation found that as many as 300 dogs are butchered every day in Yulin for their meat. Some of the killing happens within earshot of schools, with the kids seeing this adult barbarism.
The evidence collected by our team, including a photographer, a veterinarian, and two activists from HSI partner group China Animal Protection Power, confirmed that the ongoing battle to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, while not without hope, is fraught with challenges.
Many within China oppose the consumption of dog meat and see dogs and cats as companions, not food. A number of years ago, the leaders of Weixian, a rural county in Hebei province, took the unprecedented step of banning dog meat. But in some parts of the country, like Yulin, the practice continues, and 10 to 20 million dogs are slaughtered each year for their meat.
In Yulin, our investigators entered two of the four slaughter operations, two dog meat restaurants, and three dog meat markets. They witnessed indescribable cruelty toward dogs – and cats — that will only grow larger in scale as the festival draws closer.
Peter described witnessing the unloading of cats from a newly arrived truck one morning in Yulin. One crate was packed with exhausted cats and a dead kitten, born prematurely, was lying outside the crate. An adult cat inside the crate tried repeatedly but in vain to reach for the dead kitten, Peter recalled.
HSI’s work in China to end the slaughter, which began in 2013, has multiple tentacles: rescuing dogs from the live meat markets; assisting local activists who provide rescue and care for the dogs; initiating campaigns, petitions, and coalition letters to end the festival and the culture of eating dog meat; bringing global media attention to this cruel practice; and meeting with Chinese officials to broker an end to the festival that has brought the nation nothing but international shame and condemnation.
In our discussions with authorities, we have also attempted to draw attention to the impact of the dog slaughter on human health, confirmed by the World Health Organization. China has the second highest number of human rabies cases in the world and, not coincidentally, 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.
There are many compelling reasons to end the Yulin dog meat festival, and we will not stop until the job is done. I hope you will join HSI and hundreds of thousands of advocates by signing this petition to the Chinese authorities, asking for an end to this festival of horrors.