Chinese Animal Activists Save 386 Dogs From Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Content Warning: Violence Against Animals… Just days before the kick-off of 2022’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, 386 dogs were rescued from a Yulin-bound truck. Yulin, where the annual Lychee and Dog Meat festival is held, attracts thousands of visitors each year who attend to eat lychee (a fruit common throughout Southeast Asia) and dog meat. Despite worldwide outrage and the tireless efforts of Chinese and international activists, the festival continues to be held yearly. 

The truck was spotted about 500 miles from Yulin, piled high with wire crates positively packed with dogs. Activists quickly contacted local police, who responded immediately to the call. The police determined that the driver of the truck did not have proof of legal acquisition of the dogs, or the proper paperwork to transport them to Yulin.

Dogs in cages for Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China

While these police officers responded quickly and appropriately, activists note that not all police officers in China are as willing to step in when they see illegal dog meat trading in action. 

386 dogs were removed from the truck and taken into police custody. All 386 showed signs of malnourishment, dehydration, and physical injuries. Activists on the scene estimated that the dogs had been on the truck for at least a few days, likely given no food or water. Many of the rescued dogs wore collars, indicating that they were family pets at one time. 

The driver of the truck has been given 21 days to pay a hefty fine. If he fails to pay the fine, the dogs will be released to activists and rescue organizations like Humane Society International. In these cases, the fine is rarely paid, since it is often more than the individual would receive if they were to sell all the dogs.

Dogs in cages to be transported for Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China

Once released, the dogs will be given time to rehabilitate, grow their trust in humans, and eventually find loving forever homes. Hopefully, for these 386 pups, it will be a happy ending, but the effort to end the unfair treatment of dogs at these dog meat festivals is far from over. 

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Yulin Dog Meat Festival FAQ

While the Yulin Festival has understandably attracted the attention of animal lovers worldwide, the emotional nature of the issue has helped to fuel some misinformation. Finding accurate information not tainted by hateful rhetoric about this animal rights issue can be difficult, so we’d like to help set the record straight. 

What Is the Yulin Lychee & Dog Meat Festival?

Dogs in cages for Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China

Established in 2009, the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is an annual event held for 10 days in June. During these 10 days, thousands of people from southern China visit Yulin where dog meat traffickers, food vendors, and restaurants slaughter and serve dogs and cats for visitors to eat. 

When Is the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival typically begins June 21st and ends June 30th. 

Why Does The Festival Happen? What Are the Origins?

Since the Yulin Lychee & Dog Meat Festival has only been held since 2009, many people wonder why it happens at all, and whether the festival has cultural origins. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival was launched as an effort by dog meat traffickers to commercialize and push their industry into the mainstream. Before the launch of the festival, Yulin has no significant cultural ties to eating dog meat, which is eaten sparingly in southern China and parts of South Korea. 

Dogs in cages for Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China

Do Chinese People Really Eat Dog Meat? Is it a Delicacy?

No. The majority of Chinese people do not eat dog meat and have no desire to ever try it, and of those who have tried it, the majority were adventurous eaters who merely tried it for the experience. In Guangxi, an autonomous region in southern China where Yulin is located, 72% of the population do not eat dog meat regularly, and eating dog meat before the launch of the festival was relatively uncommon.

Racist rhetoric against Chinese people and propaganda created by illegal dog meat traffickers have fueled myths that dog meat has cultural significance, and that the practice is fully permitted in China. 

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In truth, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs does not classify dogs as livestock, or fit for human consumption. Because of this, the slaughter, processing, or serving of dog meat is considered illegal in China. Additionally, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, major mainland Chinese cities, have now formally banned the consumption of dog meat. 

How Do They Source the Dogs for This?

The vast majority of dogs killed at the Yulin festival and in the illegal dog meat trade are stolen pets or captured strays

A dog set for slaughter at a free market ahead of the Yulin Dog Eating Festival in 2014

What Can We Do To Stop It?

Activists in China and abroad are working hard every day to help end the cruel dog meat trade, but they can’t do it without support from their communities and people like us. A few ways you can help bring awareness to the issue and support the efforts of animal rights groups working in China include:

  • Sharing correct information about the issue. Speak up when you hear misinformation and help to educate the people around you. Try pointing them to this blog!
  • Donate to charities like Humane Society International, Soi Dog Foundation, and Animals Asia.
  • Sign the HSI’s petition.
  • Adopt an animal from China, or donate to a local rescue organization. 
A man manages to rescue a dog from the dog meat traffickers

How To Adopt A Dog From China

Rescue organizations throughout China are working hard to give dogs much-needed sanctuary, love, and resources. Many of these organizations give these dogs homes for months or years, rehabilitating them and preparing them to be transported to a new home. Due to COVID-19, strict restrictions have been placed on transporting dogs from China, but rescues hope to resume transport soon.

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Here are just a few of the international rescue agencies you can work with if you are interested in adopting a dog from China: 

  • No Dogs Left Behind is based in Beijing and has helped to rescue and rehome thousands of dogs seized from the illegal dog meat trade. If you live in the UK, Canada, or the US, you can adopt dogs from No Dogs Left Behind.
  • China Rescue Dogs rehabs and rehomes dogs from China to homes in the US and Canada. Dedicated to healing dogs emotionally and physically, China Rescue Dogs has a dedicated team of animal lovers who show their dogs endless patience and affection.

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