Criticised all across the globe, China‘s dog meat festival will still resume this year. Reports of it returning have surfaced, but maybe for the last time.
This infamous meat festival is a 10-day long festival in Yulin, China. It was first held in 2009 to mark the summer solstice. Since then, it has been the epicentre of animals rights initiatives and rescue operations. About thousands of dogs are consumed every year, with parts being sold to various industries. In the initial years, about 10,00 dogs were consumed, which reportedly decreased by 2015. Dog meat brings good luck and is healthy during the summer. People also consume cat meat and lychees.
Controversy always surrounded the festival in various ways. Activists took to social media to initiate animal rescue operations to markets selling dog meat. The year 2014 saw the biggest outraged, a petition followed which gathered over 4 million signatures. Again in 2016, the Humane Society International filed a petition which gathered about 11 million signatures. The US has also repeatedly passed resolutions to condemn the festival.
World Health Organization has kept warning the country about this festival. According to it, the festival possesses a high health risk for those who maintain the market and those who consume the meat. Chances of rabies and cholera making their way through are very high. The meat sellers often defend themselves by saying selling dog meat is no different from selling pork or beef. While animal welfare officials claim the dogs are killed inhumanely and are cramped in cages, it raises hygiene concerns to the most.
In a notification, the government classified the animals as pets rather than livestock, which may or may not have implications on continuing the dog festival. Also, the city of Shenzhen became the first to ban the consumption of dog meat. Among alarming risks of zoonotic diseases from animals, the world is pressurising China to ban the consumption of high-risk meat.