Chinese fur production has shrunk by almost 90% in last decade, but millions of animals still suffering despite public health risks

Humane Society International


BEIJING—Alarming footage from fur farms in north China shows foxes, raccoon dogs and mink exhibiting repetitive, stereotypical behaviour associated with mental decline and animals kept in intensive conditions including in close proximity to poultry, despite the potential for zoonotic disease spread. The animal protection charity Humane Society International has released the footage and renewed its call for a global end to the fur trade.

Investigators visited five fur farms in December 2023 in the northern regions of Hebei and Liaoning where they also witnessed widespread use of antibiotics and the sale of raccoon dog carcasses for human consumption.

Official statistics from China’s Fur and Leather Industry Association reveal a 50% decline in the country’s fur production from 2022 to 2023 and a decline of almost 90% during the period 2014 to 2023, consistent with an overall decrease in global fur production . The investigators observed that a significant number of the rural small and medium sized fur farms previously active in the area had closed due to poor sales. Although still the largest fur-producing country in the world, China’s trade cannot escape the global consumer and designer shift away from fur on both animal welfare and environmental grounds.

Chinese investigator Xiao Chen said: “The fur farms we visited were typical of fur farms across China where animals are sadly held in cramped, barren cages, many pacing up and down repetitively due to psychological distress. These are naturally inquisitive, energetic animals but they are reduced to this sad existence in a wire cage with nowhere to go and nothing to do. I cannot imagine their frustration and boredom, all to produce something as trivial as fur fashion. I feel ashamed to be a human when I visit these fur farms and see the cruelty and indifference of which we are capable.”

Each of the fur farms visited kept between 2,000 – 4,000 fur bearing animals in small cages so packed together that in some cases the mink or raccoon dogs could touch animals in neighbouring cages through the wire walls, making disease transfer a possibility. Despite the many hundreds of COVID-19 and avian influenza cases confirmed on fur farms globally since 2020, the fur farmers confirmed to the investigators that they don’t routinely sterilize the farms because of cost considerations. Despite not being asked by any of the farmers to abide by disease prevention protocols before entering, the investigators took their own precautions.

The food preparation areas on several fur farms showed large quantities of frozen fish, chicken meat and liver, eggs and milk powder being ground up into paste to feed to animals. In addition to contributing to fur farming’s carbon footprint, feeding raw chicken meat to animals on fur farms has been identified by EU experts as a biosecurity risk.

Veterinarian Professor Alastair Macmillan, who viewed the footage, said: “As a veterinary microbiologist, I am deeply concerned by the apparent lack of biosecurity and potential for transmission of avian influenza due to chickens and ducks moving freely between cages of raccoon dogs. That demonstrates a ready route of transmission via direct contact or faecal contamination. Cases of avian influenza have already been documented on European fur farms and such close proximity between species significantly heightens the risk of avian-to-mammal transmission. The high stocking density of raccoon dogs could also facilitate virus adaptation to mammalian hosts and the selection of virus strains capable of transmitting between mammals. The sale of raccoon dog carcasses and cooked meat for human consumption also raises concerns about the potential for zoonotic disease transmission.”

The investigation found that the most common killing method on the fur farms is electric shock applied via the mouth and rectum, although some farm operators kill mink by smashing their heads against a metal pole or beating them over the head with a club. There are a number of markets in the region where animal carcasses from fur farms are sold for approximately 2-3 yuan/kg. One local restaurant visited by the investigators offered boiled, fried and marinaded raccoon dog meat for sale to local customers for around 20 yuan and confirmed that it cooked 42 raccoon dogs a day.

Dr Peter Li, HSI’s China policy expert, said: “Although this investigation took place in China, the animal suffering inherent in the fur trade can also be seen on fur farms across Europe and North America. Mentally disturbed animals, piles of animal filth, barren cages and worrying zoonotic disease risk is in stark contrast to the glamorous image the fur trade tries to portray. But that’s the grim reality behind this industry. China exports fur to countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and across Europe, making those nations complicit in this cruelty. Responding to so many designers and consumers rejecting fur, fur farming in China has seen a dramatic reduction in recent years. But the end of this cruel, environmentally damaging and dangerous industry cannot come soon enough.”

Download photos and videos from the investigation.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, HSI’s director of international media:


In 2023, China produced 10 million fox, mink and raccoon dog fur pelts, a more than 50% decrease on the 22 million pelts produced in 2022 and an 88% decline from a decade ago. In 2014, China produced 87 million fur pelts—60 million mink pelts, 14 million raccoon dog pelts and 13 million fox pelts.

A study by carbon footprint experts at Foodsteps, commissioned by Humane Society International and reviewed by renowned sustainability expert Dr Isaac Emery, found that the environmental impacts of mink, fox and raccoon dog fur production significantly exceed those of other materials used in fashion, including cotton and even polyester and acrylic used to make faux fur. A significant component of fur’s carbon footprint is the vast quantity of animal products fed to carnivorous animals on fur farms.



Humane Society International


The ‘Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival’ was launched in 2009/2010 by dog meat traders in the city of Yulin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China as a commercial venture to boost their dwindling sales. The term “festival” is misleading; in truth there is very little about this week in June that would be recognisable as festivities or celebration. Dogs and cats are killed for meat all year round in Yulin, so the “festival” is really just a week-long escalation of what is an everyday trade in the city.

It takes place every year, starting on June 21 (the summer solstice), during which traders make extra efforts to promote dog meat to local and visiting consumers. Larger than usual volumes of dogs (and other animals) are trafficked into Yulin at this time for slaughter and sale.

Local officials initially endorsed the event, expecting it to attract tourists and boost local development. On the contrary, the festival has been a PR disaster for Yulin, earning national and international condemnation for the annual mass dog slaughter, and the local authorities have disassociated themselves with the event since 2014.

At its height, as many as 10-15,000 dogs were killed for their meat in Yulin during this period, mostly trafficked into the city by trucks sourcing dogs from across China. More recently, as a direct result of national and global pressure, far fewer dogs have been killed during the core days of 20-22 June, now estimated to be around 3,000 -5,000 dogs over these days.

Human health risks of the dog meat trade

The dog meat trade poses a significant risk to human health via the capture, trade, slaughter and processing of dogs and their carcasses. The World Health Organization has warned of the role the dog meat trade plays in facilitating the spread of diseases such as cholera and the deadly rabies virus which kills around 53,000 people across Asia annually, given that it encourages the long distance trafficking of huge numbers of dogs of unknown disease and vaccination status. In China, the dog meat trade breaches rabies control measures, undermining China’s efforts to eliminate this deadly disease. Guangxi province, where Yulin is situated, is amongst China’s five worst affected areas for human rabies, and Yulin was once among China’s 10 worst affected cities for human rabies cases. Dogs shipped to Yulin come from as far as Anhui, Hubei, Henan, Hebei in Central and North China, more than 1,500 miles away.

Making progress in stopping the Yulin dog meat festival

  • In 2010, the Yulin “festival” was launched. Around 15,000 dogs were killed for the festival in scenes that saw participants feasting in the streets. But by 2014, the Yulin authorities realised that endorsing the festival was a bad idea, and they issued an internal warning to all government employees and families not to attend dog meat restaurants. The Yulin authorities distanced themselves from the festival, saying it was a private business event, shut down one live dog market, and closed most dog slaughter operations in the city’s urban center. This led to a drastic reduction in the number of dogs slaughtered that year, however more dogs are still slaughtered during the Summer Solstice day.
  • In 2015 officials ordered all Yulin restaurants to remove tables from outside their premises and, for the second year running, to reduce dog meat dishes. Big public displays of mass dog meat eating were forbidden in recognition that this was likely to lead to conflict. Yulin’s Dong Kou Market had noticeably fewer dog meat stands.
  • In 2016 the Yulin authorities implemented road blocks to prevent trucks loaded with dogs and cats from entering the city. However they did so only a day or so prior to the festival, after most animals had already been offloaded at slaughterhouses in places outside the city center.
  • In 2017 the Yulin authorities announced to dog meat traders that a ban on the sale of dog meat would be imposed that year from June 15th, with heavy fines. However, a few days later the ban was lifted after the dog meat traders threatened civil unrest. A 2017 survey revealed that even in Yulin, home of the notorious dog meat festival, most people (72%) don’t regularly eat dog meat despite efforts by dog meat traders to promote it.
  • In 2018 local campaigners estimated that around 3,000 dogs were killed during the core festival days.
  • In 2020 during the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, catering businesses were evidently restricted and domestic tourism came to a standstill. Chinese activists observed that most of the dog meat stalls and shops previously scattered around the city had been consolidated into one central area called Nanchao market on the outskirts of Yulin. Yulin’s notorious Dongkou market that was once the epicentre of dog meat sales and the slaughter of live dogs, appeared relatively empty by comparison. HSI believes that centralizing dog meat trade activity could be the authorities’ attempt to make it easier to monitor and manage.
  • In March 2020, the city of Shenzhen, followed soon after by Zhuhai, announced that dogs and cats are not food animals and imposed a ban on their sales for food. This legislative decision by two of mainland China’s most modern and progressive cities added pressure for cities that still allow the controversial trade.
  • In April 2020 the Chinese national government (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) made a public statement explicitly stating that dogs are considered companion animals and not “livestock”, stating: “With the progress of human civilization and the public’s concern and preference for animal protection, dogs have changed from traditional domestic animals to companion animals. Dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world, and China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry.”

These initial steps are commendable, but more proactive and decisive steps are needed to end this cruel trade.

Chinese police intercept 1,408 pet and stray dogs and cats in appalling conditions

Humane Society International / Global

Yidu Center/ CAWA

BEIJING—Chinese animal activists have released shocking footage of dead and dying dogs and cats on a truck crammed with 1,408 animals being trafficked for the meat trade in China. Three hundred and seventy dogs and cats perished on board, or shortly after removal from, what activists are calling the “death truck” which was stopped by police on the highway headed for slaughterhouses and markets in Yulin, in south China. The footage was released to global animal protection group Humane Society International which campaigns across Asia to end the dog and cat meat trades.

The truck was intercepted in Xian Tao city in central China’s Hubei province, half way along its intended 1,200km journey from Fucheng in the north to Yulin in the south. Rescuers from local animal groups converged at the scene, joined by Beijing-based dog meat campaign specialists from Capital Animal Welfare Association who were able to carefully unload the traumatised animals. Alongside the lifeless bodies of dead dogs and cats, they found animals suffering with open wounds, broken bones, respiratory disease and severe dehydration. The activists administered what emergency treatment they could on the roadside, temporarily transporting the dogs to a nearby school and the cats to a holding facility before local shelters could rally to collect them.

CAWA’s Hao Da-yue attended the scene and estimates that most of the 718 dogs were likely stolen pets, and the 690 cats were probably snatched from the streets. The surviving animals are now being cared for by staff at local shelters who are administering life-saving treatment. They fear that the animals have endured such an ordeal, more may yet succumb to their injuries and sickness. HSI is providing emergency funds to help some of the shelters caring for the animals.

Hao Da-yue said: “I’ve attended many rescues of dogs and cats from the meat trade, but never before have I encountered such a shocking scene. This was a death truck, crammed full with desperate, frightened, traumatized animals caged up with their dead and dying companions. The smell of death, diarrhoea and vomit was overwhelming, and the sound of the animals whimpering and crying for our attention, was just heartbreaking. I saw a number of dogs and cats die on the roadside despite desperate attempts to help them, there was nothing that could be done but hold them as they passed away. Activists worked with tears in their eyes, many clearly shocked by what they were witnessing. The world needs to see how these poor dogs and cats suffer for China’s meat trade. Such appalling cruelty brings shame on China and shame on the majority of Chinese people who want nothing to do with this despicable trade.”

Although China has no animal protection laws with which to prosecute the traders for cruelty, Chinese health and safety regulations do present an opportunity. The two truck drivers have been detained by police and reported to Xian Tao officials, and the trader who contracted them and accumulated the animals now faces investigation by the Agriculture Bureau and could face charges for transporting sick animals across provincial boundaries without legally-required quarantine papers.

Dr. Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, said: “I want to pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of Chinese animal activists who work so hard to help animals caught up in the dog and cat meat trades. Having been to dog and cat slaughterhouses and meat markets myself, I know first-hand how traumatising it is to see this scale of animal abuse, and yet they are committed to exposing this cruelty in the hope of ending the trade for good. It is a tragedy that so many of these poor animals died on this truck, and the suffering they all endured at the hands of the meat traders is unimaginable. Most people in China don’t support this trade and it doesn’t reflect modern Chinese society, but without robust animal protection laws in place, we will continue to see this terrible cruelty.”


  1. The truck was intercepted by police on 1st October 2022.
  2. Most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats. In fact they are only eaten infrequently by a small percentage of the Chinese population. Even so, it is estimated that as many as four million cats a year could be killed for the meat trade.
  3. In 2020, two major cities in mainland China–Shenzhen and Zhuhai–banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling of 378 million people in mainland China by news site com shows is supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens.
  4. In addition to Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, across Asia the trade in and slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs is banned or otherwise ended in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and 19 jurisdictions across Indonesia. In South Korea a government-initiated task force is currently considering the issue of a ban. President Yoon Suk-yeol has stated he would not oppose a dog meat ban provided there is social consensus, and first lady Kim Keon-hee has spoken publicly of her desire for an end to dog meat consumption.

Download Photos/Videos


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International director of international media:

Two women find their beloved pets among 150 cats saved by police and animal activists; 29 sparrows set free

Humane Society International / Global


BEIJING—Members of a criminal gang in the city of Jinan, in east China’s Shandong province, have been arrested by local police for using live-caught sparrows to lure cats who they sold to the meat trade, according to the Chinese animal protection group Vshine. Thirty one sparrows–a protected species in China–were retrieved at the scene along with seven cages crammed with 148 cats who had been captured by the thieves; two kittens were born post-rescue. Jinan Zhuang Qiu District Police Office also found the gang’s fleet of mopeds fitted with cages for collecting captured cats, and reported that the thieves caught curious local pet and community cats by placing the flapping and chirping sparrows inside a wire bag within a remote controlled trap.

Although China has no national animal protection laws with which to prosecute the gang for cruelty to the cats, Chinese law generally prohibits possession of protected sparrows and given that two local Jinan residents identified their stolen pets among the caged cats, the individuals who were arrested may also be charged with violating laws prohibiting property theft.

Mr Huang from Vshine, who was at the scene, said: “We had been tracking this gang of cat thieves and traders for a while and finally found the place they stored all the cats they stole from the streets. These poor animals were tightly crammed together in rusty cages waiting to be shipped off to south China to be killed for meat. It was shocking to see the state they were in, many of them emaciated and crying out. Our discovery of dozens of live sparrows used as bait to lure the cats was also a big shock, but shows the lengths these ruthless traders will go to. We are really grateful that the local Jinan police accompanied us on the rescue and detained the cat traders. Although sadly the men responsible won’t face charges for the suffering they caused the cats, we are pleased to see the police increasingly using other laws at their disposal to crack down on this cruel trade.”

The cats are now being cared for by Jinan activists and local shelter groups. Vshine will also look after some of the cats at their shelters in northern China, which are partially funded by global animal protection organisation Humane Society International, which campaigns across Asia for an end to the dog and cat meat trades.

Peter Li, HSI China policy specialist, said: “These cat thieves were using quite sophisticated techniques to catch cats for the meat trade—baiting traps with sparrows, using remote controlled electronic devices to close the cages after catching a cat, and moving around the city on motorcycles to transport cats to the holding depot. This sparrow method is mostly used in urban communities where cat lovers feed as well as spay and neuter roaming community cats. Unlike neglected and hungry street cats who can be caught with fish or meat, these cats are well fed but would have been attracted by the flapping birds. We don’t how long these poor cats had been caged up without food or water in China’s extremely hot weather, but had it not been for the police and rescuers, they would have gone on to suffer even more being driven for miles across China to be killed in markets and slaughterhouses in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces in south-west China to satisfy a dwindling number of people who consume their meat. These are China’s two main cat meat eating hotspots. Throughout the rest of mainland China, cat meat is not part of the food culture at all.”

The 29 sparrows who survived were released back into the wild. Once the cats have received immediate veterinary care, the shelters will determine the options for adoption. They will also appeal for owners of missing cats to come forward for further possible reunions. The street cats, who would not adapt well to longer term shelter care or home adoption, will be released back to community carers.


  • Most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats. In fact they are only eaten infrequently by a small percentage of the Chinese population. Even so, it is estimated that as many as four million cats a year could be killed for the meat trade.
  • In 2020, two major cities in mainland China–Shenzhen and Zhuhai–banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling of 378 million people in mainland China by news site shows is supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens.
  • Sparrows are protected by China‘s 2000 State Protected Wildlife List of Animals of Important Economic and Scientific Research Value, items 634 and 635.


Download video and photos of the cat rescue

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International director of international media,

Yulin authorities urged to ban Summer solstice dog meat event to protect public health and animal welfare

Humane Society International


Chinese animal activists intervened to save the life of the last dog found alive at a dog meat shop in Yulin, Guangxi province, a month before the city’s summer solstice dog meat eating gets underway. The dog, named Lucky by his rescuers, was found chained up outside the shop, with a dog meat for sale sign in front of him. The Akita was the last dog of the day due scheduled for slaughter before the activists persuaded the shop keeper to give him up. There were obvious signs he had once been a pet dog and had therefore likely been stolen by dog thieves.

In light of China’s COVID-19 precautions, Chinese animal activists are urging Yulin authorities to ban the city’s annual June gathering for the so-called “Lychee and dog meat festival” for which the slaughter of dogs and cats for consumption increases. Launched in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging sales, the event starts on June 21st and can attract thousands of visitors from across the province in southern China, who gather to eat dog meat stew and crispy dog meat at the city’s restaurants and stalls. Activists are appealing to local authorities to stop the mass public gathering from going ahead, to protect public health and animal welfare.

Liang Jia, a Guangxi activist, said: “The streets of Yulin are relatively quiet right now, and although you can see a few dog meat shops, stalls and dog slaughterhouses like normal, it’s nothing compared to how it will look in mid-June. While elsewhere in China, cities are in COVID-19 lockdown, it makes no sense for Yulin dog meat traders to be allowed to encourage visitors to travel across the province and into the city. As well as the appalling animal cruelty that will take place with thousands of dogs and cats bludgeoned to death, it’s an obvious public health risk. The Yulin authorities should be taking this seriously because it would be hugely embarrassing for the Yulin dog meat festival to become a super-spreader event.”

Most people in China don’t eat dogs, and even in Yulin, polls show that most citizens (72%) don’t regularly eat dog despite efforts by dog meat traders to promote it. Nationwide, there is significant Chinese opposition to the dog meat trade as concern for animal welfare grows. In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not “livestock” for eating. That same year, two major cities in mainland China – Shenzhen and Zhuhai – banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling showed was supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens.

Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International which supports the care of dogs rescued from China’s meat trade, said: “Lucky had a narrow escape because only one blowtorched dog carcass was left on sale at the shop, meaning he would have been next. But Lucky is just one of millions of dogs who suffer at the hands of dog traders across China, and one of thousands who end up in Yulin for the summer solstice event. His rescuers say he was super friendly, used to walking on a leash and happily jumped into the back of the activists’ car without hesitation, so it seems clear that he was once someone’s pet, and indeed many of the dogs killed for meat are pets stolen from back yards, outside shops and even from cars. COVID-19 precautions add another compelling reason to crack down on dog trade gatherings like this, in addition to the brutal cruelty and criminal activity.”

Download photos & video here.


Media Contacts: 

  • United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, HSI director of international media:

Humane Society International / China

End the animal welfare and public health nightmare of Yulin’s dog and cat meat trade.

Pups starving and dehydrated, some already dead on “truck from hell”

Humane Society International


Dalian, CHINA—Chinese animal activists worked through the night with local police in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui to intercept a truck packed with 260 puppies and 22 adult dogs in such appalling conditions that one activist called it a “truck from hell.” The driver of the truck had taken the dogs—all destined to be sold for the meat or pet trade—on a gruelling 1,000 mile journey from Guizhou to Huainan before it was spotted on the highway by local activists. One activist called Teng, an anti-dog meat trade campaign volunteer for Humane Society International and its Chinese partner group, Vshine, quickly responded by alerting the police and coordinating local activists for a rescue effort.  

When Teng reported the suspected illegal transport of live animals, the local police immediately despatched law enforcement officers to intercept the truck, forcing it to pull over on the side of the road. Teng reported that when the truck driver couldn’t provide the required documents to legally transport live animals across provincial borders, the dogs were confiscated into government custody where the activists were allowed to provide emergency care. The adult dogs had been due to be sold to a slaughterhouse for human consumption, while the puppies were intended to be sold as pets, although many were so sick by the time they were rescued they likely would also have ended up at the slaughterhouse.  

Sadly, conditions were so dire that 12 of the puppies had died by the time the truck was intercepted, and a further 18 died soon after from parvovirus and distemper, both highly contagious diseases that cause severe illness and possible death in dogs. Many of the surviving puppies are suffering from dehydration, starvation and skin disease. One puppy in particular was covered in a painful skin condition leading to hair loss. He was in such a pitiful state, he immediately captured Teng’s heart and he offered to adopt him if he survived. The puppy—who he named Apple—was given emergency veterinary treatment but despite best efforts, he sadly passed away.  

Teng said: “My heart sank when I spotted the truck on the highway that night. I knew it was going to be bad because there were so many dogs crammed inside, but I hadn’t expected there to be so many tiny puppies. They were all crying for our attention, covered in their own urine and faeces, and in really bad shape. It was disgusting what they endured, like a truck from hell for those poor dogs. I noticed little Apple right away because he had lost so much fur, and my heart just melted. I wanted to do everything I could to make it up to him so that he could forget his horrible ordeal, but his suffering had just been too much. I dread to think what would have happened to them all, and I’m so sad for all the ones like Apple who didn’t make it.  We are grateful to the Huainan police who acted so swiftly to help save these dogs. We couldn’t have done it without them.” 

The remaining dogs are now safe, receiving veterinary care, nutritious food, water and rest at nearby shelters. Once their quarantine period is over, they will be transported to Vshine’s shelter, which is funded by Humane Society International. The rescue comes just three months ahead of the mass slaughter of dogs and cats in Yulin, and is a timely reminder that suffering and death at the hands of the dog meat traders is the fate of millions of animals across China every year.   

Dr Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist said: “This sad story is all too common in China, where hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats every month endure appalling suffering like this in order to make profit for the meat and pet trades. Chinese animal activists regularly alert police when trucks are identified, and in this case the Huainan police were exemplary in how they responded. It is my hope that more law enforcement agencies in China can act in the interests of public safety, public health and animal welfare like the Huainan police. The condition of these dogs was so terrible that it’s likely many more would have died before they reached their intended destination, and sickly puppies would probably have been sold for meat just like the adult dogs. Thank goodness for the Chinese animal activists and police who saved so many lives, and we are proud that that funding HSI provides can make such a difference to animals like this in such desperate circumstances.”  

Facts about China’s dog meat trade: 

  • Most people in China don’t eat dogs, in fact dog meat is only eaten infrequently by a small percentage of the Chinese population. A 2016 survey found that more than half of Chinese citizens (51.7%) think the dog meat trade should be completely banned, and the majority (69.5%) have never eaten dog meat. (Poll conducted by Chinese polling company Horizon, and commissioned by Chinese group China Animal Welfare Association in collaboration with Humane Society International and Avaaz).
  • Even in Yulin (where the so-called dog meat “festival” takes place in June every year), a 2017 survey conducted by Chinese state-registered charities and assisted by research staff from the Yulin Municipal Government, shows that most people (72%) don’t regularly eat dog despite efforts by dog meat traders to promote it.  
  •  In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not “livestock” for eating, and two major cities in mainland China—Shenzhen and Zhuhai—banned the consumption of dog and cat meat.   

Download Photos/Video  


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: 

Summer solstice dog meat eating begins in Yulin

Humane Society International / China

68 dogs saved from Yulin are now safe at a shelter.

BEIJING—Chinese animal activists in Guangxi have intercepted a dog truck outside the city of Yulin, just as the summer solstice dog meat eating gets underway. The truck was packed with 68 terrified and exhausted dogs headed for Yulin’s slaughterhouses, having already endured a long journey on the highway without food or water. The activists had been urging Yulin authorities to set up more highway checkpoints to stop and confiscate dogs from inbound dog trucks, but in the absence of official action they took matters into their own hands and stopped the truck by themselves.

The 68 dogs were crammed so tightly into rusty wire cages in the suffocating heat, they could hardly move, and they were found panting and traumatised. Many of the dogs were in poor physical health with infected eyes, and several showed behaviour that indicated to the activists these were stolen pets.

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.”

The dogs were moved to a temporary facility to rest, recover and receive veterinary care before making the journey to a shelter supported by Humane Society International.

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 trades. 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 zoonotic diseases. These are compelling reasons for the Chinese authorities to end this trade once and for all.”

Facts about China’s dog meat trade

  1. Most people in China don’t eat dogs, in fact dog meat is only eaten infrequently by a small per cent of the Chinese population. Even in Yulin, most people (72%) don’t regularly eat dog despite efforts by dog meat traders to promote it (2017 survey conducted by Chinese state-registered charities and assisted by research staff from the Yulin Municipal Government).  And nationwide, a 2016 survey found that most Chinese citizens (64%) want to see an end to the Yulin festival, more than half (51.7%) think the dog meat trade should be completely banned, and the majority (69.5%) have never eaten dog meat. (Poll conducted by Chinese polling company Horizon, and commissioned by Chinese group China Animal Welfare Association in collaboration with Humane Society International and Avaaz).
  2. China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not “livestock” for eating. The announcement came as the Ministry published its final Directory of Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry. That same year, two major cities in China – Shenzhen and Zhuhai – banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling shows is supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens. (Poll conducted April 2020 online portal com which surveyed 378 million people in mainland China).
  3. When the Yulin festival was first launched in 2010, as many as 15,000 dogs were killed during the core event days, but Chinese and international pressure has seen this figure reduce to around 3,000 dogs. However, many hundreds are still killed each day in the weeks leading up to the festival.
  4. An estimated 30 million dogs a year are killed across Asia for their meat, some 10-20million in China alone.


Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media:

Campaigners report multiple violations to Chinese authorities including lack of COVID-19 biosecurity measures despite transmission risks

Humane Society International

Raccoon dogs and foxes intensively farmed for fur in Asia, filmed November-December 2020.

WASHINGTON— Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its global campaign to end the fur trade and expose the suffering of animals on fur farms around the world. Every year in the United States, millions of animals are bred on fur factory farms or caught in cruel traps in the wild. China is the top producer of fur in the world and the number one exporter of fur apparel into the U.S.

The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November and December last year. They reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralyzed but still conscious while experiencing slow, agonizing deaths from cardiac arrest. Foxes in rows of cages were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.

“Animals on fur farms live in a world of constant fear and suffering, and this latest investigation is further evidence of that,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone still stands by this cruelty in the name of fashion. There is nothing glamorous about electrocuting animals to death. Fur farms have no place in a modern society, and it is essential that we end the fur trade for good.”                                                                                                          

On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen being stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonizing electric shock that paralyzes but doesn’t instantly kill them because this incorrect method doesn’t pass electricity through the brain.

“The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms,” said Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser. “Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilized by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”

Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfecting stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of outbreaks of COVID-19 on at least 422 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.

China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019. In 2020, the U.S. imported $89 million worth of fur apparel, including $16 million from China – a significant drop from 2019 when the U.S. imported $145 million of fur apparel, including $33 million from China.

Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country.

“Sadly, fur farms in the United States are just as unregulated as the ones found in this investigation with many of the same standards like barren cages and death by electrocution,” said PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The fur industry has done everything possible to shield public eyes from the harsh realities behind a fur-trimmed coat, and in the age of transparency, it’s no wonder the industry is on steady decline. Now is the time to end the trade for good.”

Humane Society International is calling on governments around the world to ban fur farming and end the fur trade. A 2020 Research Co. poll shows that 71% of Americans oppose killing animals for fur.

Download photos and video from the investigation


Media contacts:

China is the world’s 2nd largest importer of rhino trophies after the U.S.

Humane Society International / China

African white rhino
Volodymyr Burdiak/Alamy Stock photo

BEIJING–China’s leading animal protection organizations have sent an open letter to President Xi Jinping urging the Chinese government to make China the first country in Asia to ban the import of rhino hunting trophies. At a press conference held in Beijing on World Rhino Day, Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) together with wildlife and legal experts released the letter co-signed by more than twenty Chinese animal protection and conservation organizations as part of an appeal to eliminate Chinese demand for rhino products, including hunting trophies.

China is the world’s second largest importer of rhino hunting trophies after the United States. Between 2009 and 2018, China declared imports of 46 southern white rhino trophies – most imported from South Africa – in addition to 33 skins, eight bodies, 112 feet and six tails that also resulted from trophy hunts*. However, in a concerning discrepancy, South Africa reported exporting a total of 115 rhino horns and hunting trophies destined for China between 2013 and 2016 while China only reported importing 42 during the same period, raising suspicions of a vibrant black market for illegal rhino horns in China.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has identified China as a “focus country” to address the rhino poaching crisis and rhino horn trafficking, in addition to Viet Nam, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Indeed, 30% of recorded global rhino horn seizures between 2014 and 2018 involved China, suggesting that demand for rhino horn in the country is increasing. The number of overseas Chinese nationals arrested for crimes involving illegal rhino horn has also escalated significantly in recent years.

The Chinese NGO and experts’ letter states: “Trophy hunting is a bloody hobby and has been heavily chastised by members of the public in most countries around the world. However, this activity has become a pursuit for the wealthy few in China who can afford to spend a large sum to travel across the globe and take pleasure from killing rare and iconic wild animals, showing off by posing for morbid selfies by the slain animal bodies. Our country has become the target of aggressive promotion by the international trophy hunting industry that has been losing customers in the West and hope to lure Chinese customers…The International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Ethics Specialist Group has stated that trophy hunting is unethical. Trophy hunting is deeply rooted in Western colonialism and incompatible with Chinese history and tradition.”

Citing recent CITES reports, CAWA and co-signers of the letter also raised their concerns about the continuous transnational trafficking of rhino horns from Africa by Chinese criminal networks. Enforcement investigations have found evidence of strong and persisting demand for rhino horns within China.

Madame Qin Xiaona, founder of CAWA, said: “With China implicated as a major destination of illegal rhino horns, the additional distinction of China as the world’s second largest importer of rhino trophies is a stain on China’s international conservation image and runs counter to President Xi’s ecological civilization agenda. China does not need this cruel trade that panders to the whims of an extremely small number of the rich but does lasting damage to wildlife and to China’s reputation. We urge President Xi to adopt a ban on the import of rhino parts and products including rhino hunting trophies, similar to the existing, historic ban on the import of elephant tusks and their products.”

International wildlife experts also leant their voice of support for ending global trade in rhino trophies. Audrey Delsink, wildlife director at Humane Society International-Africa based in South Africa, said, “We applaud the Chinese animal protection groups and experts in calling to protect rhinos from trophy hunting. Trophy hunting and poaching of rhinos places a higher value on dead rhino parts than on the living animal, leading to this iconic species being decimated in the wild. The Chinese government has the power to show world leadership in how to save the rhino.

Rhinos are synonymous with South Africa’s natural heritage, and as the range state with the most rhinos in the world and therefore one of the last vestiges of hope for the species, the South African government should be doing all it can to protect rhinos rather than promoting activities that exploit them.”

Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D., vice president of HSI’s wildlife programs, adds: “Chinese animal advocates have seen through the pseudo-conservation claims of the global trophy hunting industry and are sending them a powerful message  – rhinos should not be hunted for fun and for bragging rights. China already has a ban on the import of elephant tusks and their products, including elephant tusk hunting trophies, and conservation efforts would be by a similar ban on the import of rhino trophies. However, stopping trophy hunting of rhinos is not China’s task alone. The United States is the world’s largest importer of rhino trophies and also has a critical role to play in protecting the world’s remaining wild rhinos.”  


Media Contact:

  • China: Jake Cao, Secretary General, Beijing Capital Animal Welfare Association:
  • USA: Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist, Humane Society International:
  • U.K: Wendy Higgins, director of international media, Humane Society International:


* stats from analysis of trade database from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Learn More Button Inserter