Like millions of other animal lovers around the world, retired schoolteacher Yang Xiaoyun is disgusted by the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
During this festival, celebrated on the summer solstice each year, meat from about 10,000 dogs (and some cats) — many of them stolen family pets — is enjoyed by hundreds of people.
But unlike nearly 4 million (and counting) other outraged people, Xiaoyun didn’t merely sign an online petition asking the governor to end the festival.
She got in her car and drove 1,550 miles to Yulin in an effort to spare as many dogs as she could from their terrible fate, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.
Xiaoyun paid 7,000 yuan (about $1,000) yesterday to buy 100 of the dogs. She brought them to her home in Tianjin, where she runs the “Common Home for All” pet shelter.
This hero is not alone. Other animal lovers and organizations have also traveled to Yulin to demonstrate against the festival and try to save some of the doomed dogs.
The festival has nothing to do with Chinese tradition. It was started only to raise money for dog meat traders by boosting the dwindling sales of dog meat. Although an estimated 10 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China, eating dogs is actually on the decline in that country.
“I often hear people say that we shouldn’t interfere with tradition, but it isn’t Chinese tradition to brutalize animals in this way,” Peter Li, China specialist for Humane Society International (HSI), said in a news release. “Eating dog meat hasn’t been considered fashionable or decent in China for more than a thousand years.”
Yulin’s Dirty Little Secret Exposed by Social Media
Although the Dog Meat Festival has pretty much flown under the international radar since it was first held in 2010, thanks to social media, it’s no longer Yulin’s dirty little secret.
Celebrities like Ricky Gervais have been tweeting pleas to end the festival, using the hashtag #StopYuLin2015.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) June 18, 2015
“I’ve seen the footage that HSI has captured on video, and it breaks my heart,” Gervais said in the HSI news release.
“I will never forget the look of bewilderment and fear on the faces of these poor animals — the dogs and cats await a horrible fate. No animal deserves to be treated like this.”
About that horrible fate Gervais is referring to: In order to make their meat more tender, the dogs are pounded with clubs while they’re still alive. Their throats are then slit with knives that are often dull, and then they are skinned — again, often while they’re still alive. (A hidden camera captured much of the barbaric process in an extremely graphic Daily Mail story posted today. You’ve been warned.)
Yulin city officials insist the festival is not a sanctioned event.
“The ‘summer solstice lychee and dog meat festival’ is a commercial term, the city has never [officially] organised a dog meat festival;” Yulin’s news office tweeted on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, according to the AFP.
Four years ago, a similar dog meat festival in Zhejiang’s Jinghua was ended at the urging of Chinese animal lovers. With all the negative attention being bestowed upon Yulin, it’s time for the city to follow Jinghua’s lead and end the slaughter.
How You Can Help End the Yulin Dog Meat Festival
- If you can, by all means go to Yulin and save some of these poor dogs.
- Sign the Change.org petition and HSI petition urging an end to the festival.
- Donate to HSI’s campaign to end the dog meat trade in China.
- Use the hashtag #StopYuLin2015 to get the word out on social media about this horrible event.