The Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China is one of the most well-known and publicized events centered around dog meat consumption. Because it is called a festival, it is easy to misinterpret this event as historical and culturally important, but it is not. In fact, the “festival” began in 2009 and is promoted by local businesses, it isn’t sanctioned by the government at any level.
At its height in 2014 between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs were estimated to be tortured and killed during this ten-day summer solstice event. Fortunately, reports from recent years show the numbers are falling thanks to the thousands of local and international individuals, activists, and celebrities who speak out against the festival.
In addition to public outrage and social pressure in China to end this practice, several successful interventions have demonstrated the illegality of many aspects of the event. Each year activists work to stop trucks en route to the event and to confront illegal slaughterhouses. Along with authorities, they demand paperwork to prove the origins and health of the animals – not surprisingly, many of the dogs are stolen pets. Activists also peacefully protest during the event to raise awareness.
While the practice of dog meat consumption seems to be losing popularity, there is still much to do. Even with only a small fraction of people eating dog meat in China, an estimated 10 to 20 million dogs are still being consumed by humans.