Pets snatched and sold as dog meat at ‘unspeakably cruel’ Yulin Festival

FILE - In this June 21, 2015, file photo, dogs in cages are sold by vendors at a market during a dog meat festival in Yulin in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Animal rights activists on Monday, April 4, 2016, are seeking to shut down an annual summer dog meat festival in southern China blamed for blackening the country's international reputation as well as fueling extreme cruelty to canines and unhygienic food handling practices. (Chinatopix via AP, File) CHINA OUT
Hundreds of dogs will be beaten to death each day throughout the ‘brutal event’ (Picture: Chinatopix)
As China’s notorious Yulin annual dog meat festival gets underway an animal charity has demanded the ‘unspeakably cruel trade’ be outlawed. Activists on the ground working in partnership with Humane Society International (HSI) rescued 62 dogs moments away from slaughter on the eve of the ‘brutal event’ last week.

One of them told HSI the canines ‘were likely one of the last truckloads of dogs’ entering Yulin before the festival, which began yesterday.

Despite pressure both in and outside of China – which has seen the number of dogs killed from around 15,000 to 3,000 – hundreds of hounds will still be butchered during the core festival days. HSI campaigner Wendy Higgins told ‘The event is about commerce not culture, but Yulin is just a drop in the ocean compared to the suffering of millions of dogs and cats who suffer for the meat trade across China all year round.’
Vendors wait for customers as dogs are kept in a cage at Dashichang dog market ahead of a local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, June 21, 2015. In the market, some dogs are sold as pets, while others are sold for dog meat. Local residents in Yulin host small gatherings to consume dog meat and lychees in celebration of the summer solstice which marks the coming of the hottest days for the festival, which this year falls on Monday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
The animals are often stolen from gardens and cooped up in tiny cages (Picture: Kim Kyung-Hoon)
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Chinese customers gather around dogs in cages on sale at a market in Yulin, in southern China's Guangxi province on June 21, 2015. The city holds an annual festival devoted to the animal's meat on the summer solstice which has provoked an increasing backlash from animal protection activists. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Customers gathering around the doomed dogs in Yulin (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

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She added: ‘Most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats, but this unspeakably cruel trade affects thousands of Chinese citizens who endure the heartache of having their canine companions stolen from them by gangs of ruthless thieves.thumbnail for post ID 10029964Iran executes ex-defence ministry employee on charges of spying for US

‘Such is the thieves’ confidence that they will evade the authorities, they often grab dogs and cats from the streets and backyards in broad daylight, including using poison darts and rope nooses.

‘They even drag pets over garden fences or from outside shops while they wait for their owners.

‘There have been many violent clashes between frustrated pet owners and dog thieves.

‘From the criminals who steal the animals, the slaughter truck drivers who defy health and safety laws by driving the animals across provincial borders, to the slaughterhouse workers who discard piles of pet collars, surely knowing they have just killed someone’s best friend, China’s dog meat trade is fuelled by criminal activity that goes largely unpunished.’

In this Sunday, June 21, 2015 photo, a man roasts dogs at a restaurant in Yulin in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Restaurateurs in a southern Chinese town are holding an annual dog meat festival despite international criticism. (Chinatopix via AP) CHINA OUT
Roasted dogs at one restaurant (Picture: Chinatopix via AP)
Dog meat is eaten by a fraction of the Chinese population yet it it endangers everyone because of how easily it can spread rabies, cholera and other diseases, Ms Higgins said.

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‘We and our Chinese partner groups want to see a ban on the dog meat trade to emulate bans we already have in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

‘But the truth is that the Chinese government could clamp down on the dog meat trade almost immediately simply by enforcing existing laws that the dog thieves and traders routinely breach,’ she added.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Imaginechina/REX_Shutterstock (3820312f).. Chinese vendors sell dog meat at a free market.. Dog meat festival in Yulin, China - 2012.. Medical staff have been ordered not to eat dog meat amid a growing backlash against an upcoming dog meat festival in southwest China. Doctors and nurses were warned by health authorities not to eat dog meat in Yulin city in Guangxi province. Traditionally, locals in Yulin celebrate the summer solstice by savouring dog meat, lychees and strong liquor. More than 10,000 dogs are killed during the annual festival as tourists flood the streets to enjoy the controversial feast. But the annual festival that has triggered protests from dog lovers and animal rights groups at home and abroad has been forced to become more low-key this year. Staff from three local hospitals confirmed to the Southern Metropolis Daily yesterday that meetings had been held to ban employees from eating dog meat in public. A notice of the ban had first been posted on Sina Weibo on May 29...
Despite international condemnation thousands of dogs will still be killed for their meat (Picture: Imaginechina/REX_Shutterstock)
13 Jun 2014, Yulin, Shaanxi Province, China --- Dead dogs are on sale at a stall, ahead of the dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, May 19, 2014. Yulin has an annual dog meat festival scheduled on June 21. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS ANNIVERSARY) TEMPLATE OUT. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA --- Image by ? CHINA STRINGER NETWORK/Reuters/Corbis
The killings continue despite the fact that the majority of the population don’t eat dog meat (Picture: Corbis)
The campaigner branded the Yulin Festival ‘a brutal event entirely invented by dog meat traders’ who saw the opportunity amid flagging sales to ‘make a profit by artificially imposing the idea of a dog meat tradition in an area that previously had no history of mass dog eating’.

When it first started, the festival would see around 15,000 dogs beaten to death, but dedicated campaigning has seen that figure reduced to between 3,000 and 5,000.

‘A few years ago we were alarmed to see the event start to increase again, with Chinese activists warning this was because so many well-meaning westerners flooded Yulin to buy dogs from slaughterhouses, creating a spectacle that locals came to observe,’ Ms Higgins explained.

‘But thankfully that has subsided and this year local activists are reporting that business appears subdued again.

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‘Many street vendors that sell dog meat are being shut down by the police.

‘It’s important to raise awareness about Yulin but it’s also important to not lose sight of the fact that for 10-20 million dogs in China, it’s Yulin every day.’

She praised the ‘expertise, discretion and professionalism’ of the 35 animal groups, shelters and vets across China that the charity works alongside.

One activist ended up in hospital yesterday after being attacked by a gang of dog meat traders when she attempted to rescue 300 dogs earmarked for the slaughterhouse.