Dozens of dogs bound for slaughter at Chinese festival are saved

Dozens of dogs including one that was about to give birth and bound for slaughter at a dog meat festival in southern China are saved by activists

  • Activists stopped truck filled with dogs heading to Yulin dog meat festival, China
  • Inside were 68 animals crammed into wire cages, on of which was heavily pregnant with two puppies and gave birth shortly afterwards
  • Others were trained to respond to commands, suggesting they are stolen pets 
  • Activists persuaded the driver to hand over the dogs, which are now in care 

Dozens of dogs being taken for slaughter at a dog meat festival in southern China have been rescued by animal activists.

A truck carrying 68 canines crammed into tiny wire cages was stopped heading for the city of Yulin, China, on Friday last week.

Activists said several of the animals had infections, while others appeared to be pets that had been stolen with the intention they would be killed an eaten.

One was even pregnant and gave birth to two puppies shortly after the truck was stopped and the dogs rescued. 

Activists rescued 68 dogs bound for slaughter at a festival in southern China, including one that was so heavily pregnant she gave birth to two puppies shortly after (pictured)

The dogs were crammed into wire cages on one of the hottest days of the year, and activists say they were panting and clearly traumatised

Several of the dogs were trained to respond to commands, rescuers say, meaning they are likely pets that had been stolen with the intention they would be killed

The truck that was stopped by animal activists, who convinced the driver tom give up the cargo because he did not have paperwork for any of the dogs

Humane Society International said rescuers were able to persuade the truck driver to give up his cargo, and that all 70 animals are now being cared for in shelters.

 Liang Jia, a Guangxi activist, said: ‘It was so frustrating to watch trucks of dogs arrive in Yulin when the authorities were supposed to be stopping them and confiscating the dogs. 

‘So we decided to save some dogs ourselves and waited on the highway for the next truck to arrive.

‘When it did, we flagged it down and convinced the truck driver to hand over the dogs because they were clearly stolen pets for whom he didn’t have the legally required paperwork. 

‘The dogs offered us their paw just like a pet at home, and they had healthy teeth which means someone was looking after them before they were stolen. 

‘The Yulin authorities have a responsibility to protect public health, even if they don’t also care about the animals like we do. 

‘These poor dogs look sick, and thankfully now they will receive veterinary care, but who knows what diseases they could carry that would end up in the food market.’

While eating dog meat is a centuries-old tradition in various parts of Asia, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is far more recent – tracing its origins back only as far as 2009.  

Thousands of people flock to markets in the southern Chinese city between May and June – traditionally the hottest months of the year – to buy and eat the animals.

Various superstitions surround the eating of dog meat during hot weather, including beliefs that it can bring luck, good health, cure disease and improve male libido.

But activists say the practice is cruel with dogs often slaughtered inhumanely – beaten to death with clubs while their cage-mates watch.

Many animals brought to market are also believed to be stolen pets, while activists also say vendors do not follow proper health procedures.

The WHO has warned that eating dog meat increases the risk of catching diseases such as rabies and cholera, if proper health codes are not adhered to.

Activists have been trying for years to get the festival – which also sells cat meat, lychees and hard spirits – shut down, but to no avail.

Local officials have stonewalled, saying that – officially speaking – the festival does not exist, meaning they are powerless to take action.

On paper, they have agreed to stop trucks transporting dogs to the city on festival days – but in practice, activists say little is done, forcing them to step in.

One of the rescued dogs is seen inside a larger cage on its way to a shelter

Activists who rescued the dogs load them on to the back of a truck so they can be taken to a shelter, before being rehomed

One of the charity workers plays with dogs rescued from the truck in Yulin, southern China

While the practice of eating dog meat is popular among some communities, the majority of people in both China and Yulin say they have never eaten it and do not support the festival going ahead.

Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International which supports the care of dogs rescued from China’s meat trade, said: “These activists are typical of a new generation in China who strongly oppose the dog and cat meat trades and are prepared to take action to see it ended in places like Yulin. 

‘The truth is that most Chinese people, including those in Yulin, don’t eat dogs. 

‘The suffering of these animals in Yulin is of course a tragedy, but we need to be calling for an end to this brutal trade every day across China, not just a few days in June in one city. 

‘HSI addresses the dog meat issue throughout the year and the country to advocate for an end to the dog and cat meat trade.

‘Thankfully these 68 dogs are now safe after what must have been a terrifying ordeal, but for thousands more dogs in Yulin and millions across the country, the cruelty continues. 

‘Through dog theft, illegal trans-provincial transport and inhumane slaughter, the trade not only subjects animals to suffering but also risks public health with the potential for the spread of rabies and other diseases. 

‘These are compelling reasons for the Chinese authorities to end this trade once and for all.’

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