Twenty canines have been saved from ending up on plates at a dog meat festival, thanks to the efforts of Humane Society International (HSI), a 25-year-old animal rights organisation.
A day before the infamous Lychee And Dog Meat festival that takes place in Yulin, China, these dogs were rescued from a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of the city and shifted to a shelter for medical treatment. Last week, HSI had retrieved 34 dogs and cats from another slaughterhouse in the city.
Although dog meat for consumption is legal in China, most Chinese citizens do not support the festival claiming that it destroys the country’s reputation.
"In the early hours of the morning, we went to the live dog market that sits outside a slaughterhouse,” shared Adam Parascandola, HSI’s director of animal protection and crisis response, who was present at the rescue scene, in a press statement.
“It was heartbreaking to see the dogs crammed into tiny cages and panting in the heat. One lone dog in a cage by himself gave a small tail wag when I spoke to him. It’s amazing that he was still so trusting after so much suffering. Luckily we were able to rescue him and 19 other dogs. We gave them water, which most lapped frantically, and their tails wagged as we talked to them. I’m so relieved we were able to get these dogs out, and that soon they will know the love and comfort all animals should enjoy.”
Every year, as million of dogs are slaughtered for consumption, the 10-day festival invites fresh debates and outrage on extreme animal cruelty, cultural tolerance, and hygiene.
Petitions on several platforms claim that a lot of these animals are stolen from homes, while others captured are often sick and at a high risk of spreading rabies and other diseases. The animals are also reportedly stored in terrible conditions, without food and water and are abused before being slaughtered.
This year, HSI launched a petition that collected over 11 million signatures in favour of the festival being banned. This year, road checkpoints were also set up by Yulin authorities to stop incoming trucks shipping live dogs and cats.
According to HSI, these trucks are required to have a health certificate for each animal it is ferrying, but most of them don't carry documents or furnish fake documents.
One lone dog in a cage by himself gave a small tail wag when I spoke to him. It’s amazing that he was still so trusting after so much suffering.
Although dog meat for consumption is legal in China, most Chinese citizens do not support the festival claiming that it destroys the country’s reputation, according to evidence gathered by HSI. Out of the people surveyed, 64% wanted the festival banned while 51.7% said that dog meat should be completely banned. In the same survey, 69.5% said they have never eaten dog meat in their lives.
HSI also claims that the festival is not a part of Chinese tradition or culture. Believed to have started sometime in 2010, the festival was a creation of dog traders to boost their profits. Prior to this, the city has had no history of mass dog slaughter and consumption. Today, approximately 30 million dogs are killed across Asia. In China alone, 10-20 million canines are reportedly killed to be converted into food.
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