Controversial Yulin Dog Festival begins despite outrage and coronavirus fears 

By News - World Healthcare Journal

The Annual “Lychee and Dog Meat Festival” commonly known as the Yulin Dog Festival, held during the summer solstice in Guangxi, China, has drawn a fresh batch of criticism after going ahead this year, despite the current coronavirus pandemic.

However, activists are now hopeful China’s controversial dog meat festival’s days are numbered, despite organisers going ahead with the event in defiance of a new government campaign to discourage the practice.

Occurring since 2009, the festival lasts for 10 days, during which “thousands” of dogs are reported to be consumed, with both live dogs being bought for slaughter and dead dogs sold for meat.

“I do hope Yulin will change, not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people,” said Peter Li, China policy specialist with the Humane Society International.

“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,” he added.

The event has never failed to amass huge amounts of shock and criticism from individuals and anti-cruelty organisations, but this year has drawn far more due to the added implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pictures shared on social media depict festival-goers flaunting social distancing rules, vendors butchering dogs, boiling them alive, with poor hygiene standards throughout.

The World Health Organisation has also warned that the dog trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera.

“This year's dog meat festival is the same as before,” said Du Yufeng, a Chinese animal rights activist who is currently protesting against the festival and providing videos and images online. She has protested against the event for 6 years in a row.

“Butchers are laying dogs in a row on the counters to chop,” 

In April, Shenzhen province became the first city in the mainland to ban the consumption of dogs, with others expected to follow.

The agriculture ministry also decided to classify dogs as pets rather than livestock, though it remains unclear how this will affect Yulin’s trade.

Currently, the Yulin Municipal Government has repeatedly maintained that it is not able to stop the festival as it claims it does not exist as an official event.

Zhang Qianqian, another animal-rights activist who was in Yulin for the festival, said it was only a matter of time before it gets banned.

“From what we understand from our conversations with meat sellers, leaders have said the consumption of dog meat won’t be allowed in future,” she said. “But banning dog-meat consumption is going to be hard and will take some time. ”

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