On eve of China’s Yulin dog meat ‘festival’, Chinese police and activists intercept a truck of 386 dogs headed to the city for slaughter

Summer solstice dog meat eating begins in Yulin

Humane Society International

HSI Yulin dog meat trade, May 2022

YULIN, China—With dog meat eating set to rise from tomorrow in the south China city of Yulin as the so-called Lychee and Dog Meat “Festival” gets under way, police in the city of Shaanxi together with activists campaigning for an end to the killing, have intercepted a dog truck headed for slaughter in Yulin, confiscating all 386 dogs on board. The truck with Yulin license plates was spotted on the highway about 500 miles from Yulin, crammed with cages of dogs. Video and photos taken by the activists and released to global animal protection group Humane Society International show the moment Shaanxi police pulled the truck over on the road, and distressing scenes of dogs crammed into small wire cages in the sweltering heat. The activists have praised Shaanxi police for their swift response and said that if all police took this zero tolerance approach, China’s brutal dog meat trade would come to an end.

Activists have also released new footage taken on 18 June at a dog meat market in Yulin city centre where market stalls can be seen piled with dog and cat carcasses.

Lin Xiong, one of the activists at the scene, told HSI: “It was horrifying to see so many dogs in such an appalling state, it was like a truck from hell for these poor animals. They had probably been on the truck for days, dehydrated and starving, many of them with visible signs of injury and disease. We could see their petrified faces peering out from the cages and we knew those dogs were headed straight for Yulin slaughterhouses where they would have been bludgeoned to death. The Shaanxi police response was really impressive, they came out in force and pulled the truck over, taking the dogs under police control when the driver was unable to prove he’d acquired and transported them legally. It was a very tense time for us but thanks to the authorities, these dogs are now safe in police quarantine where they can get food, water and rest. If only all police across China would have such a firm zero tolerance approach to these dog thieves and traffickers, it would be the end of the dog trade here. The dog meat slaughter brings shame on our country and so we will keep fighting until we see an end to this suffering.”

The dogs rescued by the activists were a mixture of breeds, with some still wearing their pet collars. Many appeared to be in poor physical health with infected eyes and skin disease. They have been moved to a police quarantine facility for 21 days where they will recover and receive veterinary care. After 21 days, if the trafficker refuses to pay a hefty fine (which they rarely do because the fine exceeds the profit they would make from selling the dogs), the dogs will be released to the activists. A shelter supported by Humane Society International and run by HSI’s partner group Vshine has made itself available to take care of as many dogs as needed.

Peter Li, Ph.D., China policy specialist for Humane Society International which supports the care of dogs rescued from China’s meat trade, said: “Despite the fact that most people in China don’t eat dogs, dog eating hotspots in the south such as Yulin do still exist and millions of dogs continue to suffer terribly. I’m so proud of the Chinese activists who are standing up for these animals, and the police whose response was absolutely vital, because without them these dogs would already be dead on the kill floor of a Yulin slaughterhouse. This video shows the efforts happening in China to stop this trade, and the passion of people who oppose the cruelty. As well as being an animal welfare nightmare, the Yulin gathering also flies in the face of China’s COVID-19 precautions and is largely fuelled by dog thieves, so there are compelling reasons for the authorities to really crack down on this trade. We very much hope that after the 21 days these rescued dogs will be handed over to the activists so that they can settle in at the HSI-supported shelter in north China and other rescue facilities. They are the lucky few.”

Launched in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging sales, the Yulin event starts on June 21 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. In light of China’s COVID-19 precautions, Chinese animal activists have been urging Yulin authorities to stop the mass public gathering from going ahead, to protect public health and animal welfare.

Facts about China’s dog meat trade:

  • Opinion polls show that most citizens of Yulin (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.
  • Summertime also sees an increase in dog meat eating in South Korea where dog meat soup or “bosintang” is often eaten by older citizens to beat the heat. Opinion polls show that the majority of Koreans (84%) either do not consume dog meat or don’t intend to in the future, and a government task force is currently debating the issue of a ban, with both President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee in favour of an end to the practice.
  • Dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia, and in 17 cities and regencies in Indonesia. An estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat in other parts of Asia.

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Media Contacts: Wendy Higgins, HSI director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

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