Today marks the first day of horrific Yulin
As China’s cruel Yulin dog meat festival kicks off, actress Dame Judi Dench, and violinist Vanessa-Mae send out heart-felt messages of support for activists campaigning to bring an end to the festival.
The annual event, which sees thousands of dogs, as well as cats, beaten to death and eaten, with the majority of them stolen companion animals from people’s gardens, and the streets. There are often numerous violent clashes between dog thieves and those who are against the festival.
Dame Judi and Vanessa-Mae are the latest celebrities to support animal charity Humane Society International (HSI), which works with animal group partners across China to end the dog meat trade, of which the week-long festival at Yulin is one small but now globally symbolic part.
‘It fills me with sadness’
Actress Dame Judi Dench sent a message of support for the petition delivery, saying: “It fills me with sadness to think that the Yulin dog meat festival is just around the corner again.”
“So I wanted to send this message as a symbol of my solidarity with all the thousands of people in China against the dog meat trade, who love their dogs and cats just as much as we do, but who go through the awful heart ache of having them stolen by dog thieves. I cannot imagine the suffering of those poor dogs, and I hope very much that one day soon this cruel trade will end.”
‘Show you have a heart’
Violinist Vanessa-Mae showed her support with a video message, saying: “Please join us in solidarity as we want to see an end to China’s barbaric dog meat trade including the horrific Yulin dog meat festival… Along with compassionate people in China, who do care about dog welfare, please show that you also have a heart, and support us in calling on China to end such cruel and heart breaking treatment of dogs.”
Yesterday, as HSI and Care2 delivered a 1.5 million-signature petition to the Chinese Embassy, they were joined by dogs who were rescued from past Yulins. Snorki, Fred and two dogs named Lily were saved from Yulin slaughterhouses in 2016 and 2018 by Chinese partner groups supported by HSI.
‘An unspeakably cruel trade’
Already, HSI’s activist partners have rescued 62 dogs from this year’s Yulin, who are now receiving veterinary treatment for malnutrition, mange, distemper, pneumonia and bronchitis.
Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International, says: “The dog meat trade in China is first and foremost about crime and cruelty. The Yulin festival is one small, but distressing example of an unspeakably cruel trade run by dog thieves and sellers who routinely steal pets in broad daylight using poison darts and rope nooses, defy public health and safety laws, and cause horrendous suffering, all for a meat that most people in China don’t consume.”
“Dogs like Snorki, Fred and Lily are amazing ambassadors for our campaign to end this horror, we are proud to deliver this petition with them. And we’re immensely proud to support dedicated animal advocates in China who passionately work to end the dog meat trade, saving so many lives along the way.”
Not a tradition
Many people believe that Yulin is a traditional festival, stemming from years of history, yet this is not the case. It was only invented in 2010 by dog traders trying to boost flagging meat sales. Before the festival started, Yulin had no history of mass dog slaughter and consumption.
In the first years of the festival, as many as 15,000 dogs were killed during the core festival days, but Chinese and international pressure has seen this figure decline to around 3,000 dogs.
However, more needs to be done – many hundreds are still killed each day in the weeks leading up to the festival. Additionally, an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats are killed for meat throughout the year across China.