Mans Best Friend, but not in Yulin China.
I recently watched the series 'The life Of Dogs' by Martin Clunes and I was blown away by the amount of truely amazing things that dogs are capable of doing. I was always a dog lover, but this series never ceased to amaze me, with new and interesting facts about why dogs are such close members of our human families. So when my daughter told me about Lisa Vanderpump and her efforts to use her celebrity status to raise awareness of the Yulin Dog Festival in China, I decided to take a closer look. As it is coming up to June, the time of the year that this festival takes place in Yulin, Guangxi, China, I also received through Change.org a petition which I signed, to try and stop the festival going ahead. By researching Lisa Vanderpump as one of the Wonderous Women Stories I have featured this month, as well as updates from the petition I signed; I learnt a few sad facts which I feel we should all know about, in order to bring about positive change.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival happens on June 21, 2017 during the Summer Solstice, but while organisers try and say it is a community tradition (they have eaten dog and cat meat for over 400 years in China), however it has only been a festival since 2010; as a way to promote dog meat consumption. The dogs are tortured to make the meat more tender and then eaten in local restaurants and from street vendors. While many are stray dogs collected from the streets, many are also loved family pets with their collars still on, seen crammed into crates and cages, being paraded though the town. They are then subjected to further cruel treatment, skinned, cooked and eaten. This is one of the most symbolically significant animal cruelty festivals in the world, and animal protection agencies like the Humane Society, Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project (DDAWP), The RSPCA, as well as many animal advocates groups, have been working tirelessly to try and bring an end to this cruelty.
The latest news is that the Yulin government is set to ban restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at it's summer festival. The ban is believed to have been initiated by Mr Mo Gong Ming, Yulin's new party secretary and is set to come into force a week before the the start of the festival. Avaaz delivered a petition with 11 million signatures to the Yulin government in Beijing. Alcee Hastings the US representative has written to the Chinese government, who have authorised a resolution condemning the festival, also introducing a bill on the dog and cat meat trade. While it is only a temporary ban, the dog lovers of the world are hopeful that it will continue indefinitely, once the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats in China is made illegal.
Celebrities like, Lisa Vanderpump, Sharon Osborn, Pink and Ricki Gervais and many others, have taken to social media to stop the dog meat trade in Yulin and throughout parts of Asia. Social media petitions and campaigns have reduced the number of dogs being slaughtered from over 10,000 in 2013 to 1,000 in 2016. As China does not have any anti cruelty legislation for animal protection, the RSPCA has been working with them to produce this legislation which will promote values of respect for life, kindness, empathy and good citizenship. The Chinese do however point out that dogs have traditionally not held a special place in Chinese homes like in the west, and quite rightly point out the hypocrisy about the existence of bullfighting, which is still allowed to practice in Spain.
For now let's hope that China and other parts of Asia that still eat dogs and cats, can start to work more closely with the RSPCA, representing 16 charities and organisations from around the world; to stop this cruelty and welcome dogs as man's best friend, into the family home and not the pot. Lets
also continue to lobby and sign petitions to stop the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, until it is remembered only, as yet another sad part of history we would rather forget.