Despite a recent ban on restaurants, street vendors, and market traders from selling dog meat at the yearly Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in southern China, the event appears poised to continue on unimpeded. A highly popular restaurant, Yulin No.1 Crispy Dog Meat Restaurant, is said to be operating business as usual since the ban was reported.
The ban, set to prohibit the sale of dog meat in central Yulin from June 15-23, the height of the festival, is supposed to be enforced by the risk of arrest and fines up to 100,000 yuan ($14,500). Unfortunately, there seems to be no restriction on vendors selling dog meat in the suburbs or on people eating dog meat at home.
While Yulin No. 1 Crispy Dog Meat Restaurant has recently removed the word “dog” from its store sign, Dr Peter J. Li said, “It’s definitely selling dog meat and it has no signs of closing.” Dr Li is the Associate Professor of East Asian Politics at the University of Houston-Downtown and the China Policy Specialist from Humane Society International.
Though dog meat has been eaten for hundreds of years in China and several other Asian countries, it has only become popular within the last 30 years or so and has exploded in popularity since the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival started celebrating the summer solstice in 2009 by promoting dog meat as a tourist attraction.
According to Dr Li, it would be difficult for the government to ban the trade of dog meat since it’s the livelihood for vendors who are less educated and largely unskilled. If the government forced the festival to end, says Dr Li, it would have to prevent a means of livelihood for anybody affected.
Though most residents of Yulin didn’t start eating dog meat until recently, the higher that international pressure to stop eating dog meat gets, the more rebellious the residents become, believing that the western world has interfered with their right to choose what they eat.
A better way to stop the slaughter of around 10 million dogs a year, many of which are stolen from homes or snatched from the streets, is to teach people how to love dogs as companions instead of blaming them for eating dogs.
Jill Robinson MBE, Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO, says: “’What we need now is to make sure the message is heard outside of Yulin, on all the other days of the year when millions of dogs die for their meat. We need to continue working with the authorities, with Chinese organizations, and with the public to change opinions and prove that dogs are friends, not food.”
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