With Yulin, China dog eating festival on the horizon, Animals Asia addresses open letter to local government
Posters set to go up in Yulin, China ahead of its annual dog meat eating festival, suggest that local authorities are asking people to think twice before attending.
The series of four posters include the following slogans:
● Care for life, treat animals well to build a beautiful Yulin where man and Mother Nature live in harmony.
● Civilised dining, starts with me!
● Pay attention to food safety to build a good and healthy life together.
● Hand in hand with civilisation, say goodbye to bad traditions.
While not specifically mentioning either the festival, which starts on June 21, or dog eating – the slogans all mirror the arguments of animal welfare groups who have highlighted issues of cruelty, food safety and pointing out the differences between traditions worth maintaining and those that should be consigned to history.
Reports are emerging that some in Yulin informally held dog meat eating feasts last weekend in a bid to avoid controversy surrounding the event generated by the media and animal welfare groups.
“Their posters are a strong hint that the local authorities see the dog festival as more harmful than beneficial to Yulin. We’ve long argued that any short-term boost to traders will be small in comparison to the long-term international damage. We also know that for a country increasingly concerned with food safety - dog eating is a big problem. It’s an industry characterised by criminality, cruelty and poor hygiene. Dogs are stolen from their homes – increasingly by being darted and drugged in the street. Poisons that will find their way into the meals of the festival-goers.
“Without a law for banning dog meat consumption, the local authorities have limited options available in terms of stopping the festival. However, the content in their own posters suggests a workable alternative route map. Invest in greater scrutiny and enforcement of food safety, investigate the sourcing of the dogs and continue to advise of the health issues surrounding eating dog meat. The criminality and health risks surrounding dog meat eating should not be overlooked.”
As part of its annual opposition to the festival Animals Asia has written an open letter to the local authorities spelling out the reasons why ending the festival would be the best decision for the region. In addition Animals Asia has forwarded extensive research detailing the violent criminality that is part of the industry.
The letter was posted to China’s Weibo social media and was read by over a hundred thousand readers. A further online discussion, including a panel of experts received over three quarters of a million hits in the first few days, with interest in the movement against eating cat and dog meat rising ahead of the festival.
Elsewhere, activists including celebrities, lawyers and food safety experts are calling for an end to the practice. Chinese pop stars Chen Kun and Yang Mi are among celebrities supporting campaigns against the festival on Weibo.
Animals Asia has long campaigned for better treatment of dogs and cats in China. As part of its programmes it continues to investigate the dog and cat meat trade and promotes its findings via community awareness campaigns. In addition, Animals Asia advises local authorities on topics such as population management and disease control. The animal welfare NGO also runs the Dr Dog and Professor Paws programmes both promoting animal care and the special roles dogs can play in the community
Five reasons why Yulin Dog Meat Festival must stop
Every year at the Yulin Dog Meat festival in China it’s estimated 10,000 dogs are slaughtered. In an open letter to Yulin local government Animals Asia’s Manager of China Cats & Dogs Welfare Project, Chinese national, Deng Yidan, spells out the five reasons why holding the festival is a mistake for the region and it’s people.
1. Dog Meat is a Danger to Public Health
In China, few, if any, dog meat farms remain. Classed as carnivores, dogs have proven difficult to raise under general livestock conditions in China, mainly owing to high feeding cost, high rate of injuries and deaths from fighting under stressful conditions, as well as high risk of disease and infection.
Dogs are easily prone to injury or disease under such conditions. As a result of transporting them across great distances in crowded cages – to areas of highest demand – a high percentage of animals both catch, and share, disease.
Traders now resort more to stealing dogs - cruelly slaughtering them and illegally trading in their meat. Often dogs are poisoned with the toxic chemicals still present when they’re later served up to diners. All of the above problems will be intensified by the pressure to provide 10,000 dogs.
2. Dog Theft is a Danger to Society
In 2013 alone, the media reported over 40 dog theft-related injury and death cases. So far in 2014, nine similar cases have been reported. It’s believed this is just the tip of the iceberg. The dog thief’s weapon of choice is increasingly a crossbow loaded with poison or anaesthetic. This is considered a dangerous and controlled weapon by the state. If a dog is stolen then serving a dog in a restaurant should be considered little more than trading in stolen goods.
3. Tradition should be part of progress - it shouldn’t hinder it
The progression of civilisation requires culture and tradition to be continuously reviewed. Traditions and customs inconsistent with modern civilisation cannot be maintained. Looking back at history, we see that many inhumane “traditions” - slavery and foot-binding, for example, have been protested and outlawed by society. Their elimination encourages a harmonious and healthy society, and a positive national image, without causing harm to our rich culture. This way we can keep alive the valuable traditions that actually benefit society. “Traditional culture” should not be an excuse for a corruption and cruelty.
4. Public Outrage is growing
The discussion and outrage regarding this issue from the public and media is becoming more intense. Last month more than 30 celebrities including Karen Mok, Zhao Wei, Yang Ying, Chen Kun, Daniel Wu, Yang Mi and Feng Shaofeng appealed through public social networks to bring the festival to an end.
In the past such campaigns have been successful. Qianxi in Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province regularly held a commodity fair each year. The Hutou Dog Meat Festival was held at the same time and thousands of dogs were slaughtered. In August 2011, various animal protection associations in China began to publicise the issue, and firmly denounced it. They were backed by huge online appeals. The Committee of Wucheng District, Jinhua City eventually decided that whatever the benefit to their town of the dog meat festival - having no festival was far more beneficial.
5. Dog meat festivals are not a good image for Yulin nor China
The Yulin Lychee Dog Meat Festival itself is, in fact, not a tradition at all. It only started in the 1990s. It exists because of profit and has been linked to economic growth. But bad news has increasingly overshadowed the good. Negative coverage is growing - dog theft, criminal activities, food hygiene issues, and rabies fears - not to mention the division in society between those for and against the festival. Together these have brought significantly more negative publicity to Yulin than economic benefits.
The killing and eating of cats and dogs is opposed by a growing number of people and governments of many Asian countries have taken measures to stop the practice. In Hong Kong it’s been defined as illegal since 1950. The Philippines launched its Animal Welfare Act in 1998, announcing the slaughtering of cats and dogs for food to be illegal. In 2003, Taiwan saw its Animal Protection Law amended and updated to specifically stop the practice.
Instead, these regions and countries promote cats and dogs as an important part of advanced civilisation and prohibit the consumption of cat and dog meat, thus winning wide recognition from animal loving citizens and from the international community.