Yulin Dog Festival: Animal rights abuses in China are motivated by “trade; not tradition”, says activist

Every year, over 10,000 dogs are slaughtered and consumed by humans at the Yulin Dog Festival in China.

Animal rights activists are working to put an end to this event and the dog meat trade.

Wendy Higgins, Director of Media at the International Humane Society, speaks out against the festival and gives her opinion on how society can bring an end to the trade in Asia.

“Media coverage of animal protection issues generally need to increase, particularly in the mainstream media”, says Higgins.

“I think very often the media only switches on to the dog meat issue during the Yulin event, and that’s a shame because it gives the false impression that Yulin is something special or an isolated horror when in fact the truth is that the horrors we see in Yulin happen every day across other parts of China, and that deserves equal media attention.”

Higgins puts an emphasis on the cruelty involved throughout the festival and opposes the notion of tradition or culture as an excuse for the event.

“Culture must never be used as an excuse for cruelty, whether that’s fox hunting in the UK, bullfighting in Spain, rodeos in the USA or the dog meat trade in China”, says Higgins.

Higgins says that the festival is about “trade; not tradition”.

The work of the International Humane Society has resulted in the rescue of hundreds of dogs, including the interception of a truck holding 386 dogs on the way to the Yulin slaughterhouses in 2022.

“There are no animal protection laws in China, so dog meat traders and those who slaughter these animals cannot be prosecuted for animal cruelty under the law”, says Higgins.

Humane Society International wants to highlight the need for an end to this event.

“Allowing it to continue undermines food safety, public health, animal disease control work, the government’s authority and China’s reputation as a developing and progressive nation”.

“Although we can’t stop the suffering of all animals for the food industry overnight, we shouldn’t use the suffering of pigs and cows in one country as an excuse for inaction to stop the suffering of dogs in a country”, says Higgins.

“Instead we must strive to make a difference now in those areas where we can, and the dog meat trade is one particularly cruel industry where we really can make a difference”, she says.

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