Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Warning: You are meant to be horrified by what you are about to read.

Beginning June 21st and lasting through June 30th, the city of Yulin in the southeastern Guangxi province of China will hold the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, commonly referred to as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in the West. An estimated 10–15,000 dogs will be killed and eaten during the festival, which celebrates the summer solstice.

Although the consumption of dog meat in China goes back thousands of years, the sanctioning of this practice with an annual festival did not occur until 2010.

Estimates of the number of dogs eaten worldwide and in China proper on an annual basis vary widely depending on sources. Manya Koetse, who reports on social trends in China for What’s on Weibo, reports that 13–16 million to dogs are eaten worldwide on an annual basis (and a number of other interesting, if not disturbing facts about dogs in China. I include the link for interested readers).

The bulk of that consumption is in Asia – in China, North and South Korea, the Phillipines, and Vietnam – but occurs in other parts of the world as well, including the United States. So why has this phenomenon, which has occurred for thousands of years, just recently garnered so much loud and aggressive attention in the international community? Why are people so up in arms about something that appears to be part of a longstanding cultural practice?

What is critical about Yulin is that it brings us the reality of the dog meat trade. This is humanity at its worst. It’s NOT about tradition or culture or health. It is, above all, about profit and ignorance and our inability to hold true compassion for the suffering of others.

The dogs that end up at Yulin are often pets that are stolen from families. When you see pictures of them, crowded in cages, they are cowering together, many with colorful collars. Rescuers, who often risk their own lives to save as many dogs as they can from death, have reported seeing both collars and tags. Others are strays, maybe belonging somewhere to someone, stolen for death. All end up at Yulin, starved and without water, beaten, terrorized, skinned, boiled, some electrocuted, and all in open markets in public and displayed in front of all the others taken and waiting to die.

Can you imagine, being kidnapped from your home, yanked from your run in the morning, crammed into a van with several others and driven miles away, never to see your family again? Worse yet, made to watch those strangers beaten and skinned alive, hanged, then dropped in boiling water? No. It horrifies me, too.

The torture, the Chinese say, is necessary. It tenderizes the meat. It’s also (mythically) important in warding off the heat of the summer and offers other health benefits.

Fortunately, the desire for higher profits that drove the creation of this festival also opened up the brutalities of the tradition to the rest of the world and allowed those in the international community to shine a bright spotlight on the cruelty and suffering these beautiful animals have been enduring for so long. The Chinese government and those who support this practice have received sharp and ongoing criticism from activists from all around the globe and there is an international effort to shut the festival down, as well as an organized effort at the nonprofit/governmental level to help investigate animal welfare laws and compliance. This is an ongoing and concerted effort that needs to continue, with pressure at all levels, from organizations and citizens alike.

There has been an unintended consequence to all of the current efforts, though, likely a product of our frenetic proliferation of “fake news.” If you search for Yulin today, you will see countless stories that the festival has been banned. That is NOT TRUE. As of May 26th, 2017, the festival was moving forward as planned. Efforts to shut it down need to be STEPPED UP and all support for dogs that are rescued from the dog meat trade must continue. Here is one of the latest articles on the status of this barbaric practice: