BEIJING: Animal welfare group Humane Society International (HSI) has cautiously welcomed a pledge by the Yulin government in China to take action to crack down on the Yulin dog meat festival due to start next week.
Following months of campaigning, HSI was informed that a representative of the Yulin government has written to legislator Michael Tien, a Hong Kong deputy to China’s National People’s Congress who had lobbied to end the festival.
The letter read: "The dog meat festival, though not promoted by the local government, is a private and spontaneous activity. However, the Yulin authorities and relevant government agencies will take immediate actions to prevent it from happening again."
Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China Policy Specialist said: “It is gratifying to see some progress being made here in response to our collective campaigning, as this is the first time ever that the Yulin government has formally written to pledge action to shut down the cruel festival rather than simply denying its existence or claiming they are helpless to act.”
He added, however, that there is a need for “decisive and swift action to stop the cruelty this year, such as stopping all trucks of dogs and cats into Yulin and confiscating illegal animals, and shutting down slaughterhouses killing dogs and cats for human consumption in contravention of food safety laws".
Mr Li also called for new animal welfare laws in China to end the animal abuse of the dog and cat meat trade across the entire country.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is due to begin on Jun 21 and it involves the slaughter of thousands of dogs for human consumption.
Supporters of the festival argue that dog meat is good for people and eating canines is no different from consuming any other meat.
Opponents say many dogs are either stolen or are strays rounded up for the festival, which only started in recent years.
Pictures of caged or slaughtered dogs posted online have outraged many people both within and outside China.
Earlier this month, animal rights activists calling for an end to the slaughter and eating of dogs at the festival delivered a petition with 11 million signatures to authorities in Beijing.