In a small city of Southern China, city residents were preparing to hold an annual dog-meat festival, however, animal rights organizations have been strongly condemning this unsafe and inhumane activity. For the city residents of Guangxi Yulin, it’s a kind of tradition to eat dog meat on summer solstice. Many people cherish Yulin’s dog-meat culture which increases the sales on dog-meat hotpot and strong grain alcohols. Animal rights organizations have pointed out that, every year, 10,000 dogs are slaughtered during dog-meat festival and that many of them are even electrocuted, burned, or skinned to death. According to pictures posted online, many dogs were skinned, hanging from hooks, and many dog’s corpses were piled up on the side of the road. In China, dog-meat is considered a nutritious food in winter.
For the treatment of illnesses on such as the circulation of blood, doctors would even prescribe dog-meat consumption as prescriptions. In order to stop the dog-meat-eating activity, animal rights activists have taken many measures such as releasing open letters and having protests. An open letter released by a NGO in Hong Kong pointed out that many of the dogs that were slaughtered during the dog-meat festival were stolen.
They were transported to Yulin in filthy, overcrowded trucks, which greatly increased the risk of them carrying rabies and other infectious diseases. But according to Yulin officials, all the dogs used at the dog-meat festival were bred by local farmers. But are the sources of the dogs eaten during Dog-Meat Festival legitimate?
Facing the conflict between animal protection and local customs of eating dog meat, the local governments may not have to intervene. However, it does not mean they can completely ignore it. Regarding the “Dog-Meat Festival”, the local government departments should at least investigate if the thousands of dogs that suddenly appear all come from legal sources.
At present, when it comes to quarantining and standards of animal sanitation, the relevant laws are relatively perfect. At least, there are already the “Animal Quarantine Law” and “Animals Quarantine and Administration Measures”. Two months ago, the notice “Regarding the Further Strengthening of the Quarantine and Supervision of Dogs and Cats’ Origin” that the Ministry of Agriculture issued also demanded that local animal health supervision institutions strictly follow the two laws and regulations, to establish standards for the scope, procedures and determination of quarantine, and to earnestly carry out their work of quarantine inspection of where dogs and cats are sourced.
Especially with regards to the transport of dogs and cats, quarantine authorities must carry out quarantine inspection on each source one by one according to the rules and issue a quarantine certificate to each one. For this Dog-Meat Festival in Yulin, have the local authorities strictly carried out their duties in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations? Have they done routine check-ups on those shop-owners who are selling dog-meat?
For example, it is reported that shop-owners who are selling dog-meat can’t provide a certificate to show that every dog they sell comes from a legitimate source, and accords with the relevant state health regulations. If the local [authorities] enforce the law strictly, the Dog-Meat Festival may be so big, and the numbers of dogs slaughtered each year will be sharply reduced.
As a folk culinary custom formed over many years, it should be treated with seriousness and caution, and this can be understood. But since we can’t put an end to the “festival” in the short term, the local government should at least promote a law-based administration to inspect if the sources of the dogs are illegal and penalize the illegal merchants.