Our statement on the cruel Yulin Dog Meat Festival
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival occurs every summer and causes unimaginable suffering and cruelty to dogs.
Since 2010, thousands of dogs have suffered unimaginable cruelty at the annual Yulin dog meat festival. The cruelty begins the moment dogs are taken off the streets or stolen from homes, crammed into small cages without food or water, before being killed in the most inhumane ways.
Eating dog is an inherently cruel and inhumane practice. It is also totally unnecessary. Dog meat is in decline in China and is not a common tradition.
Not only is there is no legal system supporting dog farming and trade in China, the Yulin festival poses a huge threat to public health safety due to its poor sanitation, lack of quarantine regulations, risk of rabies and other zoonotic diseases.
The cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in China have set the way by banning dog and cat meat consumption in 2020. But, to improve animal welfare, reduce public health risks, and achieve sustainable communities where humans and animals live in harmony, this local ban must become a national ban.
1. What is the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?
The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival (more commonly known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival) is an annual festival held in Yulin, Guangxi, China. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival occurs during the summer solstice every year. It is a festival where goers can eat dog meat and lychees.
The festival began in 2009 and spans about ten days during which thousands of dogs are reportedly consumed.
Yulin is a small town in Guangxi Province, southwest of China. Guangxi has the 4th lowest GDP per capita in China. This festival was not organized by the government, but rather is organized by local people as an attempt to boost the local economy around an activity that was already taking place.
2. What is World Animal Protection doing about this?
World Animal Protection in China regularly advocates for responsible dog ownership. We have developed publications on how to be a responsible dog owner which is regularly used in courses. In our campaigns and publications, we have clearly stated a zero tolerance for dog meat consumption.
China’s government reclassified dogs as pets, not food, amid fears over animal to human disease transmission, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This potential game-changer for animal welfare comes after years of campaigning on the issue.
In 2020, legislation was issued by the China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas which outlines the animals which are considered fit for human consumption. After stories started to spread about the fear of people catching COVID-19 from their pet dog or cat, we moved fast to stop the spread of misinformation and protect pets from cruelty.
3. Is eating dog meat a tradition in China?
Eating dogs has never been a tradition in China, but the choice of a few individuals.
In recent years, more and more Chinese citizens have voiced their opposition to this practice. Nowadays, dogs are considered more as companion animals rather than animals raised for food.
4. Do all Chinese people eat dogs?
Certainly Not. Only very few people in certain regions eat dog meat in China. It is not a common practice.
Younger generations are also opposing the consumption of dog meat.
It is explicit discrimination to assume that all Chinese people eat dog meat.
5. Is there a dog meat industry in China?
There is no such an industry in China as there is no legal system to support this.
Dog meat consumption is a grey area in many parts of China due to the lack of regulations on its production and consumption.
On May 29, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published an official "white list” of livestock which regulates which animals can be farmed for human consumption and for other uses such as for fur and fiber products.
Dogs are not classified as livestock as they previously had been in 2008 reflecting the shift away from eating dog meat in China.
Although dogs were on the list before 2008, their removal from the list does not mean that dogs are not allowed to be consumed. It depends on the terms of the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law of the People's Republic of China which is under review and amendment. It sends a strong signal from the national government to end the consumption of dog meat.
We hope the amendment of this law will fully ban the consumption of dogs.
6. Where do the dogs come from at Yulin Dog Meat Festival?
There are no legal dog farms for food in China.
Economically, dog farms cannot be sustainable due to certain requirements on health issues, and basic needs of dogs. No dog farm can meet basic animal welfare standards. As reported by multiple sources, including a multi-year investigation by Animals Asia, Yulin dogs were mainly strays and pet dogs stolen from all parts of China.
Shenzhen was the first city in China to require all dogs to be micro-chipped in 2020. This is an important step which we strongly support.
7. Is there a ban on eating dog meat in China?
The cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai banned the eating of cats and dogs in April 2020. There was also a motion submitted to the National People Congress that suggests banning the consumption of dogs and cats country-wide. It is a promising start. We believe more provinces and cities within China will implement the same ban in the future.
8. Is there a ban on the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an unofficial event.
With growing public outcry, the scale of this festival gets smaller every year.
We hope with the increase of public awareness on animal welfare in China, together with the pressure from international community, the local government will eventually ban the consumption of dogs in China completely.