Society

The darker side of China’s dog culture

Remember the the Yulin Dog Festival in Guangxi?

Four years ago when the Fédération Cynologique Internationale awarded the 2019 World Dog Show to Shanghai there was uproar from members of international kennel clubs – especially in Norway and Sweden.

How could China – a country that still hosts the Yulin Dog Meat Festival – be given this honour, they asked?

The Norwegian Kennel Club advised judges and dog owners to boycott unless the Yulin festival was stopped.

The Swedes were incensed too. “The Swedish Kennel Club finds that the respect for the World Dog Show is seriously damaged by being associated with a country that includes horrible dog traditions,” it said.

Yet even as the protests at home and overseas continue, the Yulin Dog Festival in Guangxi province limps on (WiC first reported on this gruesome event in issue 243 in 2014).

Last year there were rumours it would be banned, but in the end it still went ahead, with new restrictions from the local government on how public the sale and consumption of dog meat could be.

Supporters of the event say that consuming dog is a Chinese tradition stretching back thousands of years (the belief is if you eat dog meat on the hottest day of the year it will expel most diseases from the body). China’s first astronaut even ate meals made from dog while in space because the meat is meant to have “warming” qualities.

But its detractors say many of the animals eaten at the festival are stolen, transported long distances and kept in awful conditions. Between 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are killed during the 10 day ‘festival’, Yulin’s critics estimate.

The chances are it will be further scaled back this year and possibly even cancelled in 2019 – the year that the World Dog Show is scheduled to occur in Shanghai. But dog lovers fear that once the prestigious event has come and gone, Yulin’s meat festival will resume in 2020 and beyond.


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