The sale of dog meat at the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival has reportedly been banned by authorities in the infamous town in China, which since 2009 has been unofficially hosting the festival.
According to a blog post put out by Humane Society International president Wayne Pacelle, the selling of dog meat at the city’s restaurants, street vendors and market traders will be banned at the summer festival, set to take place next month.
The apparent government order, Pacelle wrote, was initiated by Mr. Mo Gong Ming, the city of Yulin’s new party secretary, and is expected to be enforced one week prior to the start of the festival, which usually begins June 21, the summer solstice. Pacelle wrote that government authorities in the city will enforce the ban with fines of up to 100,000 yuan and even jail time.
“While we recognize that this announcement is temporary, it is nonetheless an extraordinarily hopeful sign that Yulin will one day soon consign dog eating to the history books,” Pacelle wrote. “HSI would like to urge the Yulin authorities to take additional steps: make this ban permanent; announce publicly that all inbound dog trucks would face a penalty if dogs and cats are shipped into the city illegally; enforce the country’s food safety laws strictly so that poisonous dog meat will not harm consumers; and build a government facility to accommodate dogs and cats confiscated from illegal shipping operations. In China, dogs butchered for the trade are stolen from their owners or gathered off the streets.”
The festival has been criticized in recent years as folks learned about how the animals were acquired and treated prior to their death. HSI, Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, RaiseUrPaw, Care2 and Avaaz last year sent a petition to the Yulin government with 11 million signatures asking the government to shut the festival down.
And last year, celebrities including Matt Damon, Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix appeared in a public service announcement asking those in the dog-meat trade to end the torture of these dogs and cats that end up as food throughout Asia.
While the apparent ban this year would be a positive step toward ending the practice in Yulin, the potential effect is uncertain in other regions across Asia that eat dog and cat meat. Let’s hope the ban occurs and other municipalities and countries follow suit.