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China's CRUEL Dog Meat Festival Cancelled After 11 Million Sign Petition

Southern city of Yulin have agreed to ban the sale of dog meat

By: Daniel Newton  |@NeonNettle
 on 19th May 2017 @ 4.51pm
animal rights groups are celebrating a huge victory after the cruel dog meat festival in yulin © press
Animal rights groups are celebrating a huge victory after the cruel Dog Meat festival in Yulin

Animal rights groups are celebrating a huge victory after the cruel Dog Meat festival in Yulin has been canceled following a petition that has reached over 11 Million people. 

Officials in China's southern city of Yulin have agreed to ban the sale of dog meat a week before the event was due to go ahead.

Animals rights activists viewed the sale of dog meat and the festival as the worst acts of Animal Cruelty imaginable.

City officials are still yet to confirm the ban, but The Humane Society International and the Duo Duo Project have announced the news of the ban on Thursday.

Anyone caught selling dog meat in the week leading up to the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival will face fines of 100,000 renminbi ($14,500) and possible prison.

NYtimes reports: While there have been previous attempts to curtail sales of dog meat, this is believed to be the first time that the government had threatened concrete penalties.

“I’m optimistic,” Peter J. Li, a China policy adviser to Humane Society International, said in a telephone interview. “Of course we understand that no law can completely deter the sale of dog meat in Yulin. But this ban suggests that the government is becoming more serious about taking action in a determined way.”

Animal rights supporters were calling it a “milestone victory” in the campaign to end the consumption of dogs in China.

Activists said notice of the temporary prohibition was conveyed orally to local restaurant owners and vendors. In the past, officials have mostly skirted the issue, insisting that the festival is a local tradition signaling the summer solstice and not organized or endorsed by the government. Reached by telephone on Thursday, employees at four government departments in Yulin, including the food safety bureau, said that they had not heard of a ban.

“I don’t think they will publicly acknowledge it,” said Andrea Gung, the founder of the Duo Duo Project, referring to the government officials. “But my source spoke with every single one of the dog meat vendors at Dongkou” — Yulin’s main market for the meat — “and they all said the same thing: a seven-day ban on dog meat sales starting on June 15.”

It remains to be seen to what extent a ban will be enforced. The ban lasts only a week. While this covers the days before the festival and its opening, when a majority of the dogs are typically killed and consumed, activists expect that most, if not all, of the dog meat vendors will resume selling once the ban is lifted. In addition, it is unclear whether the prohibition extends to cats, which are also consumed during the festival, though their meat is less popular.

“Even though these dog meat traders will probably return to business as usual, the ban still sends a clear signal: From now on, your livelihood and your business will only become much more difficult,” Mr. Li said.

The ban is the latest development in what has become a highly charged standoff between animal welfare advocates and residents and dog meat vendors in Yulin.

Animal lovers have grown increasingly vocal in their calls to shut down the festival, which activists say was only started in 2010 by dog meat vendors to increase sales. More than 10,000 dogs — many of which are believed to be stolen pets — are said to be consumed at the celebrations every year.

As international scrutiny has intensified, residents and dog meat vendors have become increasingly defensive. Activists say only about 30 percent of people in Yulin eat dog meat regularly, but many residents say they feel they have been unfairly targeted. Eating dog meat and lychees during the summer solstice, they argue, is a longstanding local custom, and no different from eating cows or pigs.

But in recent years, what began as a mostly international movement, led by celebrities like Ricky Gervais and Gisele Bündchen, has gained more support in China, where the issue of animal rights is given more space for debate relative to other grass-roots topics.

As pet ownership rates have risen, local animal rights advocates have become more active, regularly intercepting trucks filled with trafficked dogs and organizing social media campaigns to raise awareness about issues like dog meat consumption, a practice that is found mostly in the northeast and in the southern regions of Guangxi and Guangdong.

Now, calls to end the festival have become so widespread that it has become the focal point of a broader campaign to end dog meat consumption in China and the often-brutal practices associated with its largely unregulated trade.

“A big credit goes to the Chinese activists,” Ms. Gung said. “Usually most of the foreign activists take off after the festival ends, but these local activists, they stick around, and they still talk about it, they care about it.”

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