Could Trump end a cruel dog meat festival during U.S.-China trade negotiations?

Even most of the Chinese public wants the inhumane event to be shut down.

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SOURCEIndependent Media Institute
Image credit: Bill Benson/Flicker

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, I have no words for the images from the recent Lychee and Dog Meat Festival held in Yulin, Guangxi, China. Held annually during the third week in June, this 10-day festival ritualizes the abduction, torture, slaughter and eventual consumption of tens of thousands of dogs. The torture comes in many forms, including blow-torching, hanging, skinning and immersing the dogs in boiling water — all while they’re still alive. The level of cruelty seen in the images of the festival is unspeakable.

As a dog guardian and an advocate for animal welfare, I am appalled beyond belief.

Despite the gruesome nature of this inhumane event, over 100,000 people participate in this annual massacre of animals. Some festivalgoers believe the torture and stress make the meat more tender and the consumption will bring luck, good health and even enhanced male sexual performance. Beyond these supposed effects, which have no scientific basis, the festival also brings a boost to the local economy, making it easier for organizers to ignore to the prevalent abuse. To supply the dogs, the organizers largely rely on gangs of thieves who either round up stray animals from the streets or kidnap pet dogs from unsuspecting owners.

It is important to note that the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is not a long-held cultural tradition. It was invented in 2009 by dog traders trying to boost flagging dog meat sales. In fact, before the festival started, Yulin had no history of mass dog slaughter and consumption. In fact, a recent survey conducted by a Chinese charity found that 72 percent of people in Yulin do not eat dog meat regularly, despite the efforts of dog meat traders to promote the practice. Another survey from 2016 showed that 64 percent of Chinese citizens want to see an end to the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, more than half of Chinese citizens think the dog meat trade should be completely banned and 69 percent said they had never eaten dog meat. Due to this increasingly negative sentiment among Chinese citizens, animal rights and welfare organizations are maturing far faster in China than any other country. Animals Asia, one of the most well-known animal rights groups based in Hong Kong, is determined to end all barbaric treatment to animals in Asia. 

The animal welfare community must come together to condemn the festival. Luckily, some progress has been made on the issue. In the U.S., the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution (H.Res.401) affirming the U.S.’s commitment to the protection of animals around the world. This legislation gave the United States greater standing to urge other countries to condemn the slaughter, consumption and trade of dog meat. The slaughter of dogs does not prevent hunger or improve human welfare, nor is there any economic justification to continue this horrific practice. In addition, a domestic prohibition on the dog and cat meat trade was included in the U.S. Farm Bill and signed into law by the president in December 2018. Moreover, the federal ban gave our government the power to deem this festival unacceptable and unethical.

To stop the torture and massacre of thousands of innocent dogs, the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival must be stopped once and for all. That goal will require action from President Trump. Given the president is actively negotiating trade policy with China, there is no better time than the present to call on him to raise the issue with the Chinese government. The president should introduce the termination of the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival into his negotiations with China. It is my love for dogs that has motivated me to speak out against the ritualized cruelty of the festival. I am one of the 60.2 million Americans who have a pet dog. To those who share my love for dogs, I ask you to look at the photos from the festival and the read news reports. The images and accounts are truly heartbreaking. I believe animal lovers from all walks of life can come together and stop the brutality once and for all. To accomplish this, we must speak out if we are to stop the proliferation of inhumane treatment of dogs. It’s up to us to speak for those who cannot.

Urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and contact the White House to urge President Trump to make ending the festival a part of trade negotiations with China and support a new resolution introduced by the Los Angeles City Council to pressure governments across Southeast Asia to end the dog meat industry.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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