Since 2010, Yulin, the annual dog eating festival in the province of Guangxi, China, has taken place. As a result of this relatively new tradition that is known to hold no religious or ceremonial value, more than 10,000-15,000 dogs are slaughtered each year.
While the consumption of these animals has not been uncommon in places throughout Asia, the gruesome treatment of dogs has placed the “tradition” at controversy for years now.
“I only found out about this event last year,” said Whitney Li, a Chinese-American resident of Palos Verdes. “It breaks my heart to see my favorite animals being tortured in such ways, but I am also horrified that my people are capable of such acts.”
Since China has fewer animal protection laws in comparison to other countries, according to Time Magazine, the vendors are often able to steal pets and strays without much punishment.
The abuse of these animals starts when the pets or strays are captured: sellers steal and pin them with pitchforks or other weapons and lift them by the back of their necks. The dogs are then crammed into tiny, unsanitary cages with 10 or so others, even though the space is designed for one. If the animals are able to survive the injuries, starvation, and dehydration they face during transportation to the slaughterhouses, they are often malnourished and underweight.
What happens to these dogs after purchase depends on the individual. If bought for consumption (as is seventy-five percent of the time), the dog is taken to special sites where it is skinned, slit open, or boiled alive.
According to a survey by the Pet Lover’s Companion Organization about the meat trade, “torture equals taste,” which is why so many animals are intentionally let to suffer before death. The more pain and fear is evoked, the more adrenaline is released, ultimately resulting in enhanced flavor and texture of the meat.
Furthermore, dogs are hung, beat, electrocuted, and intentionally killed in front of each other so that stress and fear can increase adrenaline.
In a May 17 press release, Humane Society International and the advocacy group Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project reported that the city is poised “to prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event.” The ban is known to be directed by Mo Gong Ming, Yulin’s new Party Secretary.
This ban will come into force on June 15, one week before the festival’s scheduled June 21 opening. It will be enforced by risk of arrest and fines up to 100,000 yuan ($14,500).
While there is legal action, however, the festival and torture of animals is not quite yet over. The gruesome dog-meat trade industry is still prevalent in China, and petitions on Change.org explain that this ban is only temporary.
These animals are our companions and deserve to live a life that does not end in pain and terror. You can donate at Humane Society International or sign the petitions on Change.org