With an annual dog meat festival in China fast approaching, animal rights advocates and dog lovers are doing as much as they can to rescue some of the animals destined to be eaten at the controversial festival.
Humane Society International (HSI) recently rescued 34 animals — 21 dogs, eight puppies, and five cats and kittens — from a slaughterhouse in Yulin, China. The animals reportedly would have been served up to attendees at this year’s Yulin Festival. According to those who oppose the festival, close to 3,000 animals were killed and eaten at last year’s festival, The Telegraph reports.
“The police presence is heavy in Yulin right now, and the atmosphere is very tense, so this was not an easy rescue,” Peter Lin, a China policy specialist with HSI, told The Telegraph.
“The dogs and cats were clearly afraid, especially the older dogs who looked very fearful,” he added. “But once they realized we weren’t there to hurt them, but in fact we would make their suffering stop at last, they very quickly responded with licks and wagging tails. It’s shocking to think that if we had not been there, all these animals would have been beaten to death and eaten.”
The Yulin government was presented with a petition signed by 11 million people demanding that the dog-eating festival end, Time reports.
“Yulin is a total embarrassment to China,” Xu Yufeng, founder of Beijing Mothers Against Animal Cruelty, told Time. She and millions of others think the event should end. She calls for ending of the festival “in the interests of public security, food safety, social morality and China’s reputation.”
Protestors have had some success in recent years. The Chinese government in 2011 banned the Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival in the Zhejiang province of China, a festival that was first held six centuries ago, according to Time.
Not all in China want to see an end to the dog-eating festival because it is perceived as demands from those outside China. The Global Times, described as a pro-Beijing newspaper, says China should not bow down to what it sees as Western pressure, even though millions of Chinese are said to have signed the petition.
“It is understandable that many Westerners oppose eating dog meat,” the Global Times wrote in a June 15 editorial. Muslims and Hindus have their own taboos against eating some particular kind of meat, and in their eyes, some Western-style eating habits might be insulting. Unfortunately, now Westerners are demanding non-Westerners change their eating habits, because they think their cultures and feelings deserve more respect than others. Such a condescending attitude is not comfortable. It is true that Western culture holds a dominant position among all cultures. On the eve of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the Korean government had to carry out a mild blow to dog meat restaurants under the strong protest of many Western NGOs.”
The editorial continued to say that eating dog meat is not a popular tradition throughout much of China, and says the Yulin Festival is just an individual case. It also noted that as more Chinese keep dogs as pets, they will likely reconsider how dogs fit into their lives.
With the June 21 festival fast approaching, hopefully more animals can be saved.