The Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which takes place annually, culminates in the butchering of thousands of dogs and cats, then cooked in several of the area’s eateries. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is celebrated in Yulin, China, during the summer solstice days, usually beginning on June 21.

There are no inauguration preparations, no folk songs, and zero grandiose décor for the event. It is simply a period when the market for dog meat in Yulin rises to match the summer solstice supply. Researchers claim that 10,000 dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered and eaten over the 10-day celebration in prime years.

In recent times, the dog eating festivals in this rural corner of southern China has sparked much debate, predominantly in the aftermath of the coronavirus flare-up. Efforts to reach the Yulin authorities and dog eateries regarding cruelty to animals were unproductive on multiple occasions. 

Nevertheless, advocates of the celebration of festival in yulin have justified themselves by arguing that dogs killed are no different from slaughtering cows, pigs, or other animals killed but there is animal welfarism is at question here.

Table of Contents

How did it start?

Dog meat trade
Dog meat trade | Image Credit – OPIA

In some regions of China, meat trade has historically been considered to promote good health and fortune. Still, the custom is controversial and highly repugnant to much of the world and many Chinese citizens. The dog meat festival began on the summer solstice since it is believed that feasting during the summertime offers excellent wellbeing and fortune. 

It is an abhorrent idea that most modern nations regard as primitive and revolting. This is the source of the debate and why it has now become a flashpoint for advocates from all over society of the united animal welfare.

It is critical to recognize that a feast in China is not the same as a celebration in other civilizations. An ordinary celebration in China consists of nothing more than spending quality time with relatives and savoring regional dishes. And the Dog Meat Festival is no exception. 

Hence, in East Asia, eating dogs and dog meat trade are not prohibited. Year after year, 30 million dogs are consumed in East Asia. Even though the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is relatively young, the convention of consuming dog meat dates back about 400 years.

Dog Eating in China: Past vs. Present

Even though we understand that consuming cat and dog meat has been practiced in China for many centuries, particularly in Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou province, and northeastern China, the regularity and quantity incurred are declining steadily. 

As per the 2015 “Survey of public attitudes to dog and cat eating in China,” consuming cat and dogs eaten is not widespread, beyond the areas mentioned above, 20% of survey participants had ingested dog meat in the previous two years, while 1.7 percent had devoured cat meat during the same period.

To further simplify, just about half of the participants had not consumed cats or dogs in the previous two years in towns where dog meat consumption is more prevalent (including Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou province, and northeastern China). And, 50 percent of those who had consumed it had done so only once or twice a year.

Several presume that the soaring carnival prices result from a lack of availability for diners, implying that fewer meat distributors and processing plants are eager to offer contentious merchandise. A further assertion is that the festival’s media coverage has massively enhanced its visibility, with partaking establishments taking advantage of the situation.

Why must Yulin Dog Meat Festival stop?

One does not require any reason to say that Yulin Dog Meat Festival should stop. Dogs are not commodities. However, below are a few thought-provoking points that further emphasize the claims.

Dog meat is a hazard to human health

There are very few genuine dog meat ranches left in China. Dogs, classified as carnivores, have proven challenging to raise under overall cattle circumstances due to the elevated dietary costs, a greater likelihood of accidents, and fatalities from combating under extreme stress.

Dogs are susceptible to injury or disorder even under regular cattle farm conditions. As a consequence of being transported over long distances in congested hutches for high-demand areas, a high proportion of animals are likely to catch and exchange disease. 

Vendors are increasingly attempting to steal dogs, brutally massacring them, and unlawfully buying and selling their meat. Dogs are frequently afflicted by dangerous substances that still exist when the dish is offered in diners.

Dog thievery is a menace

Puppies in a cage
Puppies in a cage | Image Credit – iStock

The preferred weapon for dog thieves is progressively a crossbow packed with toxin or anesthesia. The nation regards this as a threatening and strictly regulated weapon. Supplying a dog in an eatery should be viewed as little more than a business stolen merchandise.

As per media stories, organized crime syndicates frequently use highly toxic stingers to tranquilize and snatch pets and wild dogs. Pictures taken by campaigners at the various anti-Yulin events show several pups wearing collars, implying that they are stolen pets.

A lousy image for China

In actuality, the Yulin Lychee Dog Meat Festival is not a legacy whatsoever, as it only began in the 2009. It persists for financial gain and is intertwined with economic growth. However, unfortunate news has progressively outshined positive information. 

Bad press is increasing, with dog thievery, illegal conduct, food standards concerns, and rabies apprehensions, not to mention a schism in societal structure between supporters and opponents of the street fair. 

These factors have resulted in far more bad headlines for Yulin than economic advantages. An increasing number of individuals criticize the violence and ingesting of cats and dogs. And government agencies in many Asian nations have taken steps to end the conflict.

Changing scenario in China

Wet market in China
Wet market in China | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons

After one “wet market” in the central district of Wuhan became the probable heart of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has put a temporary prohibition on the commerce and consumption of wild animals. Several experts claim that the fatal virus spread from bats to people through an unknown third species due to market dynamics.

Living animals are maintained in confined spaces with humankind in such marketplaces, and they are frequently butchered at the moment of purchase. Many animals of various species create coronavirus outbreaks, all of whom have weakened immunity and resistance to infection. The dogs at the carnival are crowded, with most of them dying or suffering from sickness. Hence, cross-infection is a big problem. It has the potential to become a fertile ground for epidemics.

The interim nationwide prohibition on ingesting wild animals remains in effect. And the central government is presently developing legislation that would impose irreversible new limits on wild animal commerce and consumption. Although the national government has yet to outlaw dog meat consumption officially, the districts of Shenzhen and Zhuhai, both in Guangdong’s southern region, have done so. In fact, they were the first cities in China to outlaw the practice in April.

How can you stop it?

Stop this menace
Protestors on the streets to stop the festival | Image Credit – CBS News

A considerable portion of the Chinese folk has indeed reaffirmed their commitment to this matter. Together, we have a chance to put further responsibility on the Chinese government to stop engaging in heinous acts such as animal abuse.

Let us do our homework, discover organizations working tirelessly on the grassroots to halt the dog meat farm market all year long, all over the nation, and assist them in achieving their objectives. Donate, fundraise, promote awareness, volunteer, find a support group, sign petitions, and do everything you can do to help stop this culture. 

Make your statement by signing anti-Yulin petitions. The more people sign the petitions, the louder the movement to end the festival. The petitions are effective and have been delivered to Chinese authorities. Submit open letters to the authorities urging them to boost law enforcement. We also have to do more public awareness, file more legal battles, strengthen dialogue with the state, solicit celebrity backing, foreign support, and media attention.

If you love dogs, consider adopting a rescued dog. The majority of canines seized from the dog meat commerce in China are delivered to credible, local shelters across the country for rehabilitation and ultimate rehabilitation. It is possible to adopt from these organizations directly. Dogs rescued from the Chinese pet trade are occasionally transferred to the United States and Canada for adoption through local shelter affiliates in those countries.

As per numerous activists and campaigners, citys dog meat consumption will be prohibited shortly; nevertheless, the road to a complete prohibition will not be straightforward and will take some time. Until then, we can all help by learning more about the issue and raising awareness while appreciating the activists and volunteers attempting to save souls. But, most importantly, we must figure out how to make more ethical dietary choices individually, acknowledging that every slaughterhouse on the planet contains a trace of Yulin.

To Wrap Up

For at least seven millennia, dogs have been kept as family guardians and hunters in China. Even though some individuals may have consumed dogs slaughtered in the past during times of starvation or great hardship, contemporary Chinese people have never done so.

For the sake of animal rights and food security, the overwhelming majority of Chinese people do not eat dog meat and wish for the Yulin festival to disappear. On Weibo, a social media grid in China, themes such as “refuse to consume companion animals” and “ban Yulin dog meat festival” have been booming and dominating the platform.

The bottom line is- when we stop consuming dog meat, the Yulin dog meat festival will end. The international media spotlight will have to stay in place for more than just a week in June to render that a possibility for crisis response.

(Last Updated on June 20, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!