The controversy surrounding the Yulin dog meat festival has engaged the attention of global audiences who are outraged by the prospect of consuming animals many consider companions. While this year’s festival was met with much opposition, this year’s festivities continued and Yulin residents feasted on meals of lychees and dog to celebrate the summer solstice.
Of course, to Westerners, the thought of eating a dog is repugnant and nearly unimaginable. However, in Chinese culture, the tradition of eating dogs at the summer solstice has normalized the practice. Every year, thousands of dogs are rounded up for the festival. Kitty Block, the vice president of Humane Society International, explains to OGP, “Dogs slaughtered for the so-called festival are largely stolen pets and rural watch dogs.”
Adding to the cruelty of the event, Block continues, “[dogs] often travel for days on the road, as much as 700 miles, without food and water in crammed wire or metal cages with no room to move around.”
All with the express purpose of being sold on the dog meat market for festival participants, despite the fact, says Block, that, “These dogs display all kinds of health issues. Skin problems are common, suggesting that some of the dogs were stray animals. The dogs also pose a huge health hazard, and the dog meat traders are likely violating China’s own animal product safety regulations.”
The method of slaughtering dogs in the public markets is as graphic and barbaric as you can imagine. While protests of this year’s festival did make notable progress, the government of Yulin disaffiliated themselves with the festival and a number of restaurants removed dog after authorities stepped in. There is still hope that next years festival will be cancelled as a growing number of Chinese animal rights groups join in the protest of the event.
While it may seem that nothing positive has come from this years festival, that is simply not true. Animal rights activists from HSI, and many other animal rights groups were able to save the lives of dogs by purchasing them from the meat markets and giving them a second chance at a happy lives.
Two of such dogs have been rescued from the meat festival, thanks to Peter Li, HSI’s China Specialist. Meet Scout and his puppy friend.
These two little pups were spotted riding in a cage on the back of a motorcycle about to enter the meat market. Seeing these pups, “resembling polar bear cubs,” Li and some other activists were able to negotiate with the motorcyclist for the dogs.
Upon being rescued, Block explains, “the bigger puppy was energetic. The other puppy was shy and sat in the corner of the cage.”
Just outside the market, these dogs were saved from a pretty horrible sight. Li described the scene as, “a very depressing experience.” Witnessing, “around 200 or 300 dogs confined in cages, looking on in agony. They were very quiet, as if knowing barking was pointless.”
Block tells OGP,”Up to 10,000 dogs are slaughtered during the Yulin dog meat festival.” Making the escape of these pups even more miraculous.
Li has decided to adopt one of the puppies and the dog is on his way to his new forever home in Houston, Texas. The other puppy, who has been named “Scout” has been adopted by Leslie Barcus, an HSI Board Member. Scout arrived in his new home of Washington D.C. this past weekend and is clearly loving his new found freedom.
And of course, Scout loves his new family!
In the few days that Barcus has known Scout, she describes him as, “adorable, curious, well-adjusted and loving,” further, she explains, “Scout is into everything, barks at big dogs and could charm even the most reluctant. His appeal is amazing.”
It is not hard to believe that Barcus fell in love with Scout the moment she laid eyes on him. What is hard to believe is that he was almost made into a meal, but that is definitely something that is best forgotten.
Scout is thriving in his new home with wonderful parents to look after him. Block tells OGP, “His new mom, Leslie Barcus, says, ‘he is a people magnet.’ She tries to spread his story every chance she gets.”
Really, who could resist petting this adorable face?
Scout’s story has had a beautifully happy ending, however, his is not the typical tale. The hard work of HSI activists helped to save 400 dogs from the festival this year, however, there is still a huge threat that next years festival will continue if we do not start taking action now to see that it gets cancelled.
To help put an end to this cruel tradition, Block tells OGP, “It is important that readers continue to pay attention to China’s animal cruelty issues.”
Next June may seem far away from now, but every proactive step we take now can make all the difference for the lives of dogs just like Scout.
Block says, “This year’s unprecedented campaign by Chinese animal welfare activists along with more than 100,000 signatures collected by HSI worldwide did not completely end the festival. But there was little celebration in this year’s event. ”
There is always hope for next year. Until then, remember Scout and share his story to spread the message about the Yulin Meat Festival.
To learn more about HSI’s work to end the meat festival and to get involved with their campaign, check out the Dog Meat Issues page here.
Lead image source: Meredith Lee/HSI