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 Metro.co.uk: ‘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.’
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.Iran executes ex-defence ministry employee on charges of spying for US
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‘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.
Chinese animal activists found 62 dogs in a backstreet slaughterhouse in Yulin (Image: HSI) The terrified pooches were dehydrated, malnourished and some showed signs of sickness (Image: HSI) It comes in the run-up to the annual dog meat festival, which kicks off on Friday (Image: HSI)Many are strays picked up from the streets but others are stolen pets.
‘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.’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.
‘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.
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‘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.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.