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Howls of protest over China's dog meat festival

Annual event draws increasing condemnation

Howls of protest over China's dog meat festival

Onlookers laugh as an animal rights activist kneels to apologize to cooked dogs in a Yulin market reporter, Wuzhou

June 21, 2013

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The people of Yulin city in Guangxi province have been looking forward to today’s summer solstice, as they do every year, for this is the time when they enjoy a festival devoted to the pleasures of eating dog meat.

A traditional hotpot of the meat served with lychees and strong grain liquor is a treat that is especially relished. At any time of year, dog meat is commonly served and considered nutritious in Guanxi and Guangdong provinces, especially in rural areas.

But each year the festival draws increasingly loud protests from animal protection advocates, to such an extent that even some of the locals now admit to having mixed feelings about the practice.

More than 20 groups across China have been campaigning against the festival throughout June, claiming that it flies in the face of world trends on animal protection and that the meat consumed does not go through correct food inspection processes.

The festival’s notoriety rocketed last year when blogs and media worldwide relayed images of dogs in cages waiting to be slaughtered and canine corpses piled on roadsides.

“It’s cruel and inhumane to kill tens of thousands of dogs for a festival,” one resident told “Dog is man’s best friend, it shouldn’t be a dish on the table.”  

She added that “some people even kill the dogs they raised as guard dogs. I still remember how my uncle killed his dog with a hoe. That horrified me.”

But a young member of the local seminary offered a different view.

“We eat other livestock, so why not dogs?” he said. “It just depends on people’s mindset whether eating dog is uncivilized. For me, it’s no more unusual than eating pork.”

However, he did add that there are reports linking mental disorders and epilepsy with eating the meat and advised that it is wise not to eat it without knowing its provenance. “For safety and hygiene’s sake, we prefer dogs reared by the local villagers,” he said.

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