by Peter Li
2014 was a banner year for China’s animal protection movement. In particular, the campaign against eating dog meat gained significant momentum.
In March, a nationwide protest called for the shutdown of the Yulin “Dog Meat Festival,” an annual event promoted by the city’s dog meat traders.
Between August and December, thousands of activists took part in highway rescues of dogs on trucks bound for northeast China’s dog meat markets. Of 23 attempts, 18 trucks carrying more than 8,000 dogs were successfully pulled over.
Incredible results—but even so, these activities could have been planned, organized and coordinated better. Even more importantly, activists, if equipped with knowledge of China’s existing laws and regulations regarding animal product safety, animal disease control, and trans-provincial animal transport, could have been more effective in assisting officials with efforts to punish the traders, who have never been able to meet the proper legal requirements for transporting live animals across provincial boundaries. In fact, no dog meat traders can produce the required documents since most of the dogs are stolen household pets.
In other words, the framework already exists to deter the shipment of dogs across the country for slaughter—the activists just need to know how to work within it.
This past May, in collaboration with VShine Animal Protection Association, Hebei Buddhist Charity Foundation, and the California-based Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, Humane Society International sponsored the “Chinese Young Activist Summer Workshop” in Tianjin, some 80 miles east of Beijing. The workshop brought together two Chinese attorneys and three American experts to help activists lay a road map for their campaign against the dog meat industry.
The Chinese made participants aware of the laws they could use to help them, while the Americans introduced ways to plan for action and coordinate emergency rescues, along with information about typical behaviors of traumatized animals and how best to care for them.
The 79 attendees were mostly born in the late 1980s, part of the Chinese generation that is least tolerant of animal abuse. Among them were those involved in the highway interceptions and the anti-Yulin Festival demonstration. With these passionate young people now even better-equipped to fight for their cause, the days of the dog meat industry are numbered. Please, donate to help shut down the dog meat trade and keep all animals safe.
Dr. Peter Li is HSI’s China Policy Specialist.