Ahead of the controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, 34 animals have been rescued from slaughter by Chinese activists.
They were led by Humane Society International (HSI), managing to secure the release of 29 dogs and five cats from the “squalid conditions” after holding negotiations. Some of the dogs in the slaughterhouse were reportedly wearing collars, indicating they were actually pets potentially stolen from their owners by dog thieves, a crime which is on the rise in China.
The animals have since been transferred to an animal shelter, where they will be looked after by vets and prepared for adoption.
The rescue operation was led by HSI’s China policy specialist, Peter Li, who said: “The police presence is heavy in Yulin right now, and the atmosphere is very tense, so this was not an easy rescue. But, we were determined to save animals from their gruesome fate at Yulin, and it was such a relief to leave the slaughterhouse cages empty for one day at least.
“It’s shocking to think that if we had not been there, all these animals would have been beaten to death and eaten.”
The annual Yulin festival starts on 21 June, and has been running since 2010. While significantly fewer dogs are killed nowadays during the festival (around 3,000 last year, compared to around 15,000 six years ago), hundreds are still slaughtered on a daily basis in the lead-up to it.
A petition by HSI calling for the end of the festival managed to gather 11 million signatures from around the world, and it has since been submitted to the Chinese Embassy in London, as well as Yulin authorities.