Sunday 15 June 2014

Chinese Dog Meat Festival

Animal advocates protest against dog meat festival.

Photo: screenshot from Weibo. I have not chosen a dog photo
as they are too disturbing.
Fifteenth of June 2014: The annual dog meat festival is about to take place in Yulin, Guangxi province. This article, then, is not about cats. However, it is very closely related to cats because in this part of China they also consume cat meat, a cultural practice which many people in the West find extremely distasteful. This is a cultural issue.

However, it is more than that because gradually a section of Chinese society are beginning to discover the distasteful nature of eating dog and cat meat.

Up to 10,000 dogs are expected to be eaten during next weekend's festival.  The festival is timed to coincide with the summer solstice and the dog meat is washed down with lychee wine.

Despite this being a long-standing tradition and widely accepted, the event, nowadays, is causing controversy within China. The actress Yang Mi made a plea on China's version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, to the government to ban the festival to which 72,000 people commented. You can see that it is a hot topic with very polarised viewpoints.

Dog lovers are bombarding some restauranteurs with threatening phone calls.  One restauranteur mentioned that she was receiving up to 30 threatening phone calls per day.  There have been attempts to free the dogs from their cages. Some protesters have been detained by the authorities. About 400 dogs were bought by animal advocates with money donated by animal lovers. These dogs have been resettled in Shangrao, Jiangxi province.

Some restaurants are responding to the pressure from animal advocates by substituting dog meat with donkey meat but it is unpopular with their customers as half of them refuse eat it and walk out.

The argument within China for eating dog meat is that they are stray dogs and therefore without an owner (although that need not necessarily be the case), therefore what difference is there between stray dogs and pigs (which no one complains about). The manager of one restaurant says “their protest doesn't make any sense".

I understand the argument for eating dog and cat meat. On the face of it there is little difference between a stray dog or cat and farm livestock.  However, the counter argument is that there is a difference.

Farm livestock is reared to be consumed whereas the role of the cat and dog in all societies is primarily as a companion to their human caretaker - this is an un-written agreement because, let us not forget that, the domestic dog domesticated him/herself in a mutual understanding between the grey wolf and ourselves about 30,000 years ago. To kill the dog for human consumption is seen by some as reneging on an ancient agreement.

Article by Michael. Sources: Times and South China Morning Post

1 comment:

  1. Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival Was Cancelled in 2011

    I'm pleased to report that The New York Times reported that this ancient tradition which in modern China provokes outrage was cancelled. Officials in eastern China declared that they are doing away with this 600-year-old custom which involve the slaughter of 10,000 dogs. I presume this is another festival in the east while the festival in the post is in the south.

    The full title of this festival is Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival. It seems that the the better educated Chinese middle classes are objecting to it. It as become outdated and of course as China becomes evermore integrated into the West they are obliged to take on the cultures of the West in relation to domestic animals.

    There is no doubt that there is a growing number of animal advocates in China who want to see an improvement in animal welfare which of course includes the welfare of stray and domestic cats because they too are eaten in the South in large numbers.

    One of the worst aspects of eating dog and cat is the way they are treated before they are slaughtered and the act of slaughtering them is awful. There is a terrible brutality about the whole process demonstrating a complete lack of concern for animal welfare and respect for animals.


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