A southern Chinese festival where thousands of cats and dogs, many of them pets stolen from their rightful owners, are butchered as delicacies, has met with an explosion of on- and offline anger, from Chinese and non-Chinese alike.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival was supposed to have been shut down years ago. Now, the local authorities in Guangxi Province deny its existence, though animal protection activists and the owners of kidnapped pets would beg to differ.
According to China Daily, the Chinese regime’s English-language mouthpiece, activists estimate over 10,000 dogs are killed for the festival yearly. Graphic photographs posted to Chinese social media show scores of cats and dogs in various stages of abuse or processing.
An increasing number of Chinese are speaking out and taking action against the centuries-old practice of eating dog and cat meat.
— Kimpoy Feliciano (@kimpoyfeliciano) June 19, 2015
Yang Xiaoyun, a 65-year-old woman from the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, saved up thousands of yuan to come to Guangxi and purchase as many living animals as she could to prevent their slaughter, the state-run People’s Daily Online reported.
Outrage on social media over the Yulin festival has gone viral both in China and abroad.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) June 9, 2015
Hundreds of thousands of of Chinese netizens have been vocal in opposing dog-eating festivals. In recent decades, pet ownership has been on the rise among China’s middle-class, leading people, especially China’s young, to see them more as companions and less as meals.
On an anti-Yulin festival poster circulating on Chinese social media, a dog sheds a red tear, saying, “Please don’t eat us. We’re your friends.”
On Facebook, which is banned in China, a page titled “Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival 2015,” has racked up 63,000 likes.
Many of the animals prepared for slaughter are kidnapped in other provinces before they are brought to Guangxi for the festival.
When villagers in Hunan caught two thieves killing and stealing their pet dogs on June 4, they chained them to posts and beat them for nine hours, according to People’s Daily. When police arrived at the scene, the mob demanded compensation from the government; when this was refused, they turned on the police and damaged their patrol car. Only later in the day did backup come and the thieves were taken into custody.
According to the Humane Society International, local authorities in Yunlin warned restaurant owners of likely protests during the festival, due to take place on June 21. It is being held a week ahead of the normal schedule, apparently an attempt to lessen the controversy, the state-run Xinhua reported.