Dog meat lovers pay no heed to festival protesters

Updated: 2014-06-23 07:12

By Agencies in Yulin, Guangxi (China Daily)

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Dog meat lovers pay no heed to festival protesters

Yang Xiaoyun, founder of The Home To All, an animal shelter in Tianjin, fixes a cage carrying dogs in Yulin on Thursday. Yang and other volunteers stopped a tricycle carrying dogs to be eaten and saved them. HOU LIQIANG / CHINA DAILY

More photos:Fur flies in Yulin over dog meat festival

People in South China celebrated the annual dog meat festival over the weekend despite mounting protests from animal welfare groups and pet owners.

During the festival - marking the summer solstice on Saturday this year - in Yulin, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, about 2,000 dogs are often consumed.

In the morning, farmers and vendors packed dogs into cages and transported them to the market for selling. The roads were crowded with people, motorbikes and cars.

"I come every year. This time, I caged three dogs for trade. All are raised by my family," said a farmer from Fumian district.

A vendor surnamed Pang from Xingye county said that he bought dogs in villages before the summer solstice and traded them later in the market.

"In previous years, I could sell 70 to 80 dogs on the occasion and earn 4 yuan (less than $1) per kilogram of dog meat," he added.

Animal lovers have flocked for weeks to Yulin to protest the local custom of eating dog.

"We bought more than 200 dogs and planned to bring them to our hometown. We can't stop local people from celebrating the long-standing festival, but we can save as many dogs in our own way," said a woman surnamed Yang, a dog lover from Tianjin who paid an average of 400 yuan to 500 yuan for each dog.

An animal rights activist who visited Yulin last week said efforts to change minds had proved futile or even backfired.

"A lot of people have said, 'I don't eat dog meat, but just because of these idiots, I'll go buy some to eat and to give to my friends to eat," a 50-year-old animal rights advocate visiting Yulin said.

The activist, who asked not to be named due to sensitivities surrounding the issue, added that outside criticism had "created a sense of confrontation".

Dog meat lovers pay no heed to festival protesters

One of the dogs that volunteers saved from dog catchers peeks out from his cage in Yulin. HOU LIQIANG / CHINA DAILY

More photos:Fur flies in Yulin over dog meat festival

"These outsiders coming in as dog lovers are just troublemakers coming to Yulin to create unrest," he cited locals as saying.

Wang Xiaoyuan, a 35-year-old from the northern city of Taiyuan who traveled with 12 people, said people had followed her group and warned them not to return.

Yulin authorities have declined to step in, saying eating dog is not illegal - but have suggested restaurants serving such dishes cover the word "dog" on signs, Xinhua news agency previously reported.

Although residents did not give up their custom, the dog meat festival sales have decreased.

By Friday, 17 local restaurants that served dog had stopped, and four illegal ones were banned by the city's food and drug administration, said the administration's deputy head Chen Taotao.

Chen said 48 restaurants in Yulin still serve dog meat.