Chinese police intercepted a truck carrying 386 dogs to be slaughtered during the annual dog meat eating festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, which was due to start on Tuesday – the day of the summer solstice.
Footage from the scene showed the dogs were crammed into wire cages in poor conditions. Upon discovering the truck last weekend, animal rights activists feared that some of them might have infectious diseases. So they reported the truck to the police, citing the country’s epidemic prevention laws.
Lin Xiong, one of the activists who saw the truck being pulled over by the police, said, “It was horrifying to see so many dogs in such terrible condition, it was like a truck from hell for those poor beasts… Dog meat the slaughter brings shame to our country and so we will continue to fight until we see an end to this suffering.
Ahead of this year’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which draws a small crowd to the city, Chinese activists have come up with creative ways to prevent dogs from being killed.
Xiao He, an animal rights activist based in Shaanxi, said he had worked for weeks with other activists to review China’s laws and regulations to persuade authorities to prevent the event to occur.
“There are regulations that articulate how to treat animals, for example legally required quarantine inspection certificates. But it is clear that those transporting the dogs did not respect the regulations. We must remind them and the authorities [of those regulations],” He said.
In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs declared that dogs are not “cattle” to be eaten, but rather pets.
Activists who helped rescue the dogs on board said they were of different breeds, sizes and health conditions. They said it was likely from stolen guard dogs or pets, stray dogs seized from the streets or from other unknown sources with no trace.
After police intervention over the weekend, the dogs were sent to quarantine. Chinese activists told the Guardian that the dogs have now been handed over to the Capital Animal Welfare Association in Beijing, after the traders signed an agreement to relinquish their ownership of the animals.
Peter Li, a China policy specialist at Humane Society International, a campaign group, said authorities in Yulin had been “duped” by traders who falsely claimed eating dog meat was “traditional” and part of the local food culture. “Consumption of dog meat is determined by supply, by traders, not by consumers. The dog slaughter in Yulin is commercial in nature, not cultural,” he said.
Li said his team on the ground saw Yulin police trying to stop business owners from putting on a “festival” performance.
“Eaters from outside Guangxi were significant before 2014. This group has decreased significantly, especially since 2020. Most eaters are local and their numbers have decreased.”