WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Despite a government campaign to improve animal welfare, Yulin still went ahead with its notorious dog meat festival.
- Health experts have pointed out that the festival will only increase risks of another coronavirus outbreak.
- Activists are expressing hopes that the festival will eventually stop as customers have dwindled.
The notorious dog meat festival in Yulin, China has gone ahead this year despite the government’s discouragement.
Graphic footage of the event shows hundreds of dogs caged in cramped conditions, raising fears of another contagion, especially since the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated from a wet market in China.
The annual 10-day festival has previously attracted thousands of visitors, but this year saw a significant decrease in customers, critics observed.
Activists are hoping that this year’s festival will be the last as the government draws up new laws to protect pets and prohibit wildlife trade.
Dr. Peter Li, a China policy specialist with the Humane Society International, an animal rights group, remarked: “I do hope Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people.”
“Allowing mass gatherings to trade in and consume dog meat in crowded markets and restaurants in the name of a festival poses a significant public health risk,” Li continued.
The coronavirus outbreak, which is believed to have originated from horseshoe bats in a market in the city of Wuhan, has prompted China to reassess its relationship with animals. The country has also vowed to ban wildlife trade.
China had recently changed the classification of dogs from livestock to animal companions, but they are yet to ban dog meat consumption.
The first Chinese city to ban dog meat consumption is Shenzhen back in April. Others are expected to follow.
Zhang Qianqian, an animal rights activist who was in Yulin on Saturday, is optimistic that the dog meat festival will be banned.
“From what we understand from our conversations with meat sellers, leaders have said the consumption of dog meat won’t be allowed in future. But banning dog meat consumption is going to be hard and will take some time,” Qianqian shared.
Li told Sky News: “We understand that pandemics are caused by a huge concentration of animals of different species – animals with compromised immune systems.”
Li warned that the festival is a “breeding ground for a pandemic.”