WATCH: Human Rights Activists Are Targeting The China Dog Meat Festival

If you are easily sickened by dog cruelty, prepare yourself for this story. And if you have a dog or a cat that you love, I strongly encourage you to hold them and hug them right now as you read this. I assure you my three dogs are cuddled up with me as I write it.

In Yulin, China, the government has gotten very good at looking the other way as the annual Yulin Festival brutally slaughters and consumes up to 10,000 dogs and 4,000 cats. Of course, the local government does not endorse the killing of dogs for meat. In fact, they’ve specifically said that they would ban the practice after the international outrage and online petitions sparked unwanted interest in the locals.

But though it is no longer an officially-sanctioned festival, the yearly summer solstice celebration continues, the trading continues, the dog cruelty continues, and the outrage and protests grow larger every year.

Those taking part in the festival insist that the animals come from mass breeding facilities, where they are specifically raised in humane conditions for this purpose. But a disturbing report from a Hong Kong-based group called Animals Asia says they found no evidence of any dog mass breeding facilities that could produce the animals at this level.

The implication of this is what protesters have been saying for years: the dogs are either picked up as strays or, far too often, are family dogs stolen from their homes by city dog traders. Adam Parascandola of Humane Society International (HSI) confirms that many dogs rescued by protesters and brought to them are most definitely family pets:

“We’ve seen all manner of dog breeds coming in to the rescue shelters, some of them obviously someone’s pet because they still have their collars on with their names.”

Another excuse lobbed by festival-goers is that it’s no different than other people who eat beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc. However, one of the most prominent grievances against the festival has little to do with consuming the animals and everything to do with how they are slaughtered.

In the U.S., the farming industry has been under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act since 1958. That specific act had little oversight from the start, until Temple Grandin came in and revolutionized the industry. While the process is still not perfect, and perhaps the process of humane death can never be perfect, it nonetheless requires regularly-audited measures to ensure the least amount of suffering possible.

The Yulin Festival, however, has no such standards. Dog cruelty on display shows dogs and cats regularly shoved a dozen at a time into small cages where they await their fate. That fate is to be traded or sold, followed by a torturous death reported to include being beaten, skinned alive, electrocuted, boiled, burned, and finally eaten.

Under the guise of tradition, dog traders justify it as no different than eating turkey at Christmas. However, the summer solstice “tradition” in Yulin only really goes back to the 1990s, and the actual festival wasn’t officially started by city dog meat traders until 2009. Most of China no longer uses dogs for meat, and younger generations are now standing with protesters to end the practice and drop the “old ways.”

As Yulin prepares for another year, the backlash prepares as well. There are many petitions on that have been going for years, some of which have millions of signatures, and many which are still active or new. Efforts are underway from to raise awareness, employing #Yulin2016 to bring together those opposed to the practices.

The video below is from ACTAsia for Animals, and at times is extremely graphic.

Featured image via Youtube screengrab

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