Mere days before the start of the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, animal rights activists in China have rescued 62 dogs from being slaughtered and eaten.
These activists, who have chosen to remain anonymous, found the frightened dogs in a dirty slaughterhouse on June 12. The animals were in a terrible state, showing signs of malnourishment and dehydration. Some even appeared to be suffering from sickness and infection.
Devastating footage released by Humane Society International (HSI) reveal many of the dogs were the sort of small breeds popular among Chinese pet owners. Some were still wearing their collars, a chilling reminder of the many beloved pets in China snatched each year by dog meat traders.
Most of the dogs and cats which end up in China’s meat trade are thought to be either strays or pets which have been illegally snatched from their owners’ gardens.
Following their capture, these poor creatures are crushed into wire cages before being driven for many hours – or even days – to slaughterhouses where will face cruel and brutal deaths.
Wei, one of the Chinese activists, has given the following harrowing account of the rescue to HSI:
It was swelteringly hot inside the slaughterhouse when we got there, the dogs were exhausted and panting, some pressing themselves tight against the wall in an effort not to be noticed. Others chased around our legs eager for attention.
We noticed straight away that some of them were wearing pet collars so they were probably stolen, and some of them looked very sick so we quickly loaded them on the truck to get them to our temporary shelter quickly to receive emergency veterinary treatment.
In years gone by, some have defended the heartbreaking end met by dogs in the meat trade as being a traditional part of Chinese culture. However, this view is completely inaccurate, with dog meat only being eaten infrequently by less than 20 per cent of the population.
Yulin is far from a traditional festival, with dog traders inventing it in 2010 in an attempt to sell more dog meat.
The slaughter man told us that these dogs were likely one of the last truckloads of dogs entering Yulin before the festival because the local government was likely to stop further trucks from entering the city, but we didn’t stick around to verify that.
We want the world to see the horrors of China’s dog meat trade of which Yulin is typical, and for dog lovers everywhere to stand up against this terrible cruelty. Please don’t waste your breath calling dog eating Chinese culture. It is not our culture to steal people’s pets. It is not our culture to eat dogs.
Following this heroic rescue, the 62 canine survivors were taken to a temporary shelter where they were given emergency care, food and water.
After resting for several days, the dogs left Yulin and driven to a variety of permanent shelters which will give them some much needed care in the long term.
HSI’s China policy specialist, Dr Peter Li, has given the following comment:
Yulin is a very tense place right now, with dog traders and slaughterhouses on high alert, so it was difficult for these Chinese activists to win the trust of this facility to release the dogs. We commend their efforts to show the world the suffering of these poor animals, and to expose the dog theft that lies behind the dog meat trade.
These dogs are traumatised and in need of veterinary treatment, but they are the lucky ones because for them at least the horror of Yulin is over. Sadly, thousands more will still die at Yulin, and millions across China, unless decisive action is taken. So we urge the Chinese government to show that it will not tolerate the dog thief gangs who perpetuate this trade, and bring an end to the brutal dog and cat meat trade.
Humane Society International (HSI) continue to campaign tirelessly against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and you can sign their petition for yourself here
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.