Yulin Dog Meat: it's no festival



Dogs on their way to slaughter. Picture: Soi Dog.

Cities in China are banning the consumption of dog and cat meat, and the Chinese government has confirmed that dogs are companion animals, not livestock. Nonetheless, the annual  Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, commonly referred to as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, is set to start, as usual, on June 21st.

Rarely has a ‘celebration’ associated with the summer solstice been such a miserable event. Every year, around 30 million dogs are horrifically killed and eaten around of Asia. While only a fraction of that number is consumed during its ten day duration, Yulin has become a focus of outrage.

Dogs are killed and eaten in Asia for entirely mythic reasons of health and wellbeing. Further to this is the belief that the animals must die in fear in order for the flesh to taste better. This leads to acts of unimaginable cruelty, with reports – and video footage – of dogs being beaten to death with metal bars, dismembered, skinned and boiled and blowtorched alive.

Those images – of burnt, broken and flayed dogs begging for their lives – are impossible to forget.

While Yulin has only been in existence since the 1990s, the practice of eating dogs in Asia is over 4,000 years old, according to Michał Piotr Pręgowski’s Companion Animals in Everyday Life: Situating Human-Animal Engagement within Cultures. But culture is no excuse. when people deliberately torment some of the world’s gentlest creatures, we have collectively reached the pit of #humanity, from which we lose any right to call ourselves civilised, compassionate or even intelligent. 

The cruel treatment of any living creature should be regarded as the antithesis of emotional and intellectual progress. 


Terrified, emaciated, a dog stares out hopelessly from behind bars. Picture: HSI.

Meanwhile, in images from Yulin and beyond, the dogs – wide eyed and frozen with terror – stare out from behind bars, listening to former cage mates scream. In each animal, you can still see the gentle, affectionate companions they could be, perhaps once were.

This is not just cultural finger wagging. In 2016, the campaign group Humane Society International and its Chinese partner groups went to Beijing to submit a petition with 11 million signatures calling for an end to festival. And most Chinese want the practice stopped, regarding it as both barbaric and embarrassing for China’s global reputation. 

“The cruel treatment of any living creature should be regarded as the antithesis of emotional and intellectual progress.”

A growing number of activists are relentlessly dedicating their lives to ending the torture and slaughter of man’s best friend. The younger generation are fanning the flames of hope. Encountering threats and aggression from dog meat traders, Asian activists work tirelessly to save the animals. But the Festival is nowhere near a thing of the past.

Dogs are being killed right now in preparation for the festival. Take action and make your protest known. Below are six groups working with local partners to end the dog meat trade around Asia. Help the dogmeat dogs: by letting people know this is happening, by publicising the issue on social media, by signing petitions. Unless you have a strong stomach, avoid images from the dog meat industry. They are impossible to recover from.

1. Humane Society International: A global animal protection organization working to help all animals. Works extensively with partner organisations in the countries that eat dogs and cats. Earlier this year, it saved around 170 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm; watch the video above. Donate, sign petitions and get more information at www.hsi.org/dogmeat

2. Duo Duo Project: Californian-based non-profit making advocacy organization founded by Andrea Gung, an Asian American who travels regularly between US and China to support local communities fighting the trade in dog meat. Donate, sign petitions and get more information at www.duoduoproject.org/

3. Soi Dog: Not-for-profit, legally registered charitable organization based in Thailand which helps homeless and abused dogs and cats of Asia and works to end the dog meat trade. Sponsor dogs, donate either money or veterinary supplies, volunteer or adopt at www.soidog.org

4. Animals Asia: Founded 1998, Animals Asia promotes compassion and respect for all animals and works to end the barbaric bear bile trade, the trade in dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam and the abusive animal practices in zoos and safari parks in Asia. Find out more www.animalsasia.org/uk/

5. World Dog Alliance: Hong Kong-based charity dedicated to “promoting clear legislation on banning dog meat consumption” in countries around the world. Through the united efforts of NGOs and individuals, WDA hopes to end the suffering of dogs slaughtered every year in Asian countries. Get more information at www.worlddogalliance.org

6. Change for Animals Foundation. Working in partnership with local and international NGOs in order to achieve positive and lasting change for animals, Change for Animals is headed by campaigner and activist Lola Webber and recently persuaded over 90 celebrities including Cameron Diaz, Ellen DeGeneres and Ricky Gervais to sign a petition pushing for the end of the dog and cat meat trade in Indonesia. Get more information at www.changeforanimals.org

There are many smaller charities working to stop the trade including www.stopdogmeat.com, https://iheartdogs.com, www.greatergood.org. Yang XiaoYun is an elderly woman in Tianjin, China, who has rescued thousands of dogs from Yulin, dedicating her entire income to their care and rehabiliation. Research these carefully; some of them operate with kindness but are unregulated.


Google ‘end dog meat petition’ and you will find hundreds. Petitions are often accompanied by graphic content. Please be aware of this when you search for them. Start with www.change.org, www.avaaz.org and www.care2.com as well as smaller charities such as http://www.stopdogmeat.com/

Humane Society International is asking  Prime Minister of China, Li Keqiang to ‘show leadership by ending the annual “festival” in Yulin, as well as the outward display of animal cruelty and officially ban the dog and cat meat trade in the country.

Sign the pledge here.

Lady Freethinker is sending a petition to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai calling for an end to the festival. So far, over 91,000 signature have been collected. 

Add your name here.

Every week, tens of thousands of animals are traded and slaughtered, including many thousands of dogs and cats. Change for Animals Foundation is calling on Provincial and Central Governments of Indonesia to take urgent action to close live animal markets through Indonesia, where dogs and cats are also killed. 

Add your name here.

Care2 is running a petition calling for signatures to Join the Movement to Stop Dog Meat Consumption Worldwide. Be warned. The main image is graphic. 

Add your name here.


Follow your favourite charity working on behalf of dogs in the dog meat trade, repost or retweet from social media sites. When you post on social media, add appopriate hashtags to communicate with like-minded groups. Charities often use #enddogmeat #enddogmeattrade; #StopYulin is common. There are different hashtags associated with different events. Use whichever feels most appropriate to you.

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