Ac­tivists protest dog-eat­ing tra­di­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG and HUO YAN in Yulin, Guangxi

As a lo­cal fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing the con­sump­tion of dog meat ap­proaches, re­tail­ers in Yulin, the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, said busi­ness has been hurt by the protests of an­i­mal rights groups and dog lovers.

Tra­di­tion­ally on the sum­mer sol­stice — June 21 this year — lo­cal res­i­dents in the re­gion cel­e­brate with dog-meat hot­pot, ly­chees and liquor. At least 10,000 dogs are eaten dur­ing a typ­i­cal fes­ti­val.

As Satur­day ap­proaches, an­i­mal right groups and dog lovers are pour­ing into the city, hop­ing to save dogs by dis­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents from fol­low­ing the cus­tom.

At around 5 am on Thurs­day, ac­tivists search­ing for dogslaugh­ter­ing lo­ca­tions stopped a tri­cy­cle car­ry­ing eight an­i­mals. The car­rier agreed to sell the dogs and two cages for 1,150 yuan ($185) af­ter a lengthy ar­gu­ment. The ac­tivists also bought six pup­pies at a dog mar­ket for 1,200 yuan.

“As long as we can save one dog, we will do it,” said Yang Yuhua, 64, from Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

A dozen Bud­dhists and dog lovers from Guang­dong, Sichuan and Chongqing prov­inces per­formed a re­li­gious cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day in a ma­jor re­tail dog meat mar­ket. Con­sole the souls

They said they hoped that the rite would con­sole the souls of the slaugh­tered dogs and con­vince lo­cal people to change their habits. The team, headed by a Bud­dhist monk, walked around the Dongkou mar­ket, recit­ing prayers.

On Wed­nes­day evening, eight ac­tivists took to the street where more than a dozen restaurants that serve dog meat are lo­cated. The ac­tivists car­ried posters call­ing on people to stop eat­ing the meat and handed out pam­phlets.

Lo­cal dog- meat eaters en­gaged them in a lively de­bate, as dozens of passers-by lis­tened in. The ac­tivists pro­claimed that dogs are friends of hu­mans, and that eat­ing dog meat can be un­healthy.

Dog eaters, how­ever, said it’s their right to eat the meat, the same as any­one who eats pork or beef. Deal­ers com­plained that the “ex­treme be­hav­ior” of the out­siders has hurt busi­ness.

“My grand­fa­ther, my fa­ther and I all sell dog meat. I could sell dozens of dogs a day last year dur­ing this time, but I only sold a few this year,” said 55-year-old Zhou Jian, one of the re­tail­ers.

“We al­most have no dogs to kill and sell be­cause of those people’s ex­treme be­hav­ior,” said a fe­male butcher who de­clined to give her name.

“The govern­ment has pre­vented trucks car­ry­ing dogs from en­ter­ing Yulin be­cause of pres­sure from them,” she said. “We have no choice but to col­lect dogs from ru­ral ar­eas.”

She said her busi­ness vol­ume is off 50 per­cent from last year.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the Yulin govern­ment has asked re­tail­ers and restaurants to stop killing dogs in pub­lic. It also asked pub­lic ser­vants to re­frain from eat­ing dog meat. Con­tact the writ­ers at houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn and huoyan@chi­nadaily.com.cn.

HOU LIQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Yang Xiaoyun, founder of The Home To All, an an­i­mal shel­ter in Tian­jin, fixes a cage car­ry­ing dogs in Yulin on Thurs­day. Yang and other vol­un­teers stopped a tri­cy­cle car­ry­ing dogs to be eaten and saved them.

HOU LIQIANG / CHINA DAILY

One of the dogs that vol­un­teers saved from dog catch­ers peeks out from his cage in Yulin.

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