Chinese animal activists rescued ten “friendly and innocent” puppies being sold for meat at a market outside Yulin, where the city’s dog meat festival is due to take place from June 21. After questioning the stall holder about how they acquired the puppies, the activists were allowed take them.
Activist Jennifer Chen said, “I couldn’t believe that these friendly and innocent puppies would be killed for food if we hadn’t been there by chance, and I can’t believe that anyone would even want to eat these adorable little darlings. This was my first trip to Yulin and what I saw at the market really shocked me.”
“My hands were trembling when I took the first puppy out of the cage. He kept licking my hands, and unbeknown to him I could easily have been a dog meat eater. People often assume that these horrific scenes are normal for most Chinese people to see, but it’s just not true. I was so upset to see the puppies under the sizzling hot summer sun, but I was happy that we were able to save them from the butcher’s club.
“Like the Chinese government said, these puppies are companions not livestock, and cities like Yulin should put those words into practice and end this shameful dog meat trade.”
As well as rescuing the puppies, activists filmed traders butchering dog carcasses, seemingly in defiance of the Ministry of Agriculture’s statement last month that dogs are not livestock.
There are, however, some encouraging signs: activists reported to Humane Society International that Yulin’s notorious Dongkou market, which was once the epicentre of dog meat sales and the slaughter of live dogs, appeared “relatively empty” by comparison.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International, said, “The Yulin authorities may want to keep a closer eye on all the dog meat trade activity by centralising it more or less at one market, possibly because of the increasingly controversial nature of the dog meat business.
“While some traders told the activists they were doing as much business as possible to make up for lack of sales from January to March due to the coronavirus, others reported that it is now harder to acquire live dogs from outside Guangxi province due to the government’s crackdown on trans-provincial animal transport.”
Peter added, “Instead of the huge slaughter trucks of previous years bringing in thousands of dogs at a time, they say it is more common now to see small truckloads of mostly locally sourced dogs from nearby towns.
“Momentum is building in China to tackle the dog and cat meat trades, and while I don’t think anyone expects Yulin’s dog meat trade to close up overnight, what the activists witnessed could indicate that things are shifting even in Yulin.
“The cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai have hopefully started a trend by banning dog and cat meat, and the declaration by the national government that dogs are considered companions rather than livestock, provides a compelling incentive for other cities to follow suit. I do hope Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals, but also for the health and safety of its people.
“With new cases of COVID-19 tied to a Beijing market, allowing mass gatherings to trade in and consume dog meat in crowded markets and restaurants in the name of a festival poses a significant public health risk.”
Images by HSI