A ten day summer solstice celebration begins next week in Yulin, Guangxi, China. Commonly referred to as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, the annual celebration is marked by the consumption of lychee fruits and dog meat. An estimated 15,000 dogs are consumed over the ten day period, and festival activities include parading caged dogs through the streets and the skinning and burning of the animals. Festival participants believe that dog meat is good for the health during the hot summer months, and do not see the consumption of dog any differently than the consumption of other animal products.
Animal rights activists however, are outraged by the yearly event, and strive to end the practice through petitions, social media campaigns, and a plea to the Yulin government. Celebrities such as animal rights advocate, Ricky Gervais, have backed the campaigns to end the festival. Videos and images of the dogs can be easily found online, an uneasy sight for most people who are accustomed to seeing dogs as companions, not as food. Various petitions have been submitted to the Yulin people to encourage them to end the yearly event. The Humane Society International is an organizer of one such campaign, drawing over 11 million signatures to present to the leadership in Yulin. The petition says that by stopping the festival “you will clearly show your leadership in protecting the well-being of both people and animals, and demonstrate that China’s global reputation as a progressive nation will not be besmirched by such activities.”
Although the Yulin government has not shut down the festival, they have distanced themselves from it. They allow the event, as it’s organized by private businesses, but have not endorsed the event since 2014.
According to a survey on the website of CCTV, the national broadcast of China, 64% of China’s citizens believe the consumption of dog meat should be banned.
However, Guardian reporter, Julian Baggini notes the hypocrisy of Western meat eaters who oppose the eating of dog, while enthusiastically consuming other animal products. If people care about animal welfare in the meat industry, then they need to look at the conditions in all industrial farming practices worldwide, and not just focus on dogs in Yulin.
For now, the Yulin Dog Festival continues. It runs June 21 – June 30, 2016.
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Photo Credit: San Diego Union Trib