Over 1,000 dogs due to be slaughtered in controversial Yulin Festival 'rescued by activists'
Published 22/06/2016 | 21:19
Activists claim to have rescued more than 1,000 dogs due to be slaughtered for food in the controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival in southern China.
In a video uploaded to the Facebook page of the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, a California-based animal welfare organisation, activist Mark Ching claims to have shut down five slaughterhouses, with more actions planned.
“What happens when you shut down a festival that has 10,000 dogs that die in it," he says in the video, "you have thousands of lives that need homes, so, we need help. I’m out here alone and we just need help to get the job done …. We need groups to help us take these dogs to safety."
The festival began on June 21, has been held on the summer solstice since 2010. Dog meat is eaten by a small minority of Chinese only on rare occasions, and the animal is now widely considered a popular pet.
A separate video on the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation page, showing a number of dogs being removed from a slaughterhouse, is accompanied by text saying: “We just rescued over 1000 dogs from Yulin.
“A thousand breaths that would die here in the dark. A thousand lives that would bleed like blood left there upon ground.
“These dogs, they are brothers. They are sisters. They are fathers and mothers. They are children. They deserve a chance.”
Speaking to LA Weekly, Ching added: "I want the people in China to be able to see, change is possible. People are meeting from all over the world, and even within China, to come help us."
Last week 34 animals – including 21 dogs, eight puppies, and five cats and kittens - were rescued by the Humane Society International from “squalid conditions” at a slaughter facility in Yulin.
The US-based campaign group carried out the rescue after organising a petition that was signed by 11 million people worldwide in opposition to a dog eating festival held in the town.
The petition – which was handed in last week to the Chinese Embassy in London and to Yulin authorities - calls for an end to the festival which campaigners say resulted in the killing of up to 3,000 animals last year.
“The police presence is heavy in Yulin right now, and the atmosphere is very tense, so this was not an easy rescue,” said Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist, who led the rescue.
“The dogs and cats were clearly afraid, especially the older dogs who looked very fearful. But once they realised we weren’t there to hurt them, but in fact we would make their suffering stop at last, they very quickly responded with licks and wagging tails.
“It’s shocking to think that if we had not been there, all these animals would have been beaten to death and eaten.”
However, the pro-Beijing Global Times newspaper on Wednesday last week ran a commentary saying that the festival should not be “forcefully abandoned” following pressure from the West.
“Some Western media and animal rights protection groups have hyped up the festival to be a blot on China's national image. This is no more than a kind of cultural extremism,” said the Global Times.