On Saturday, a Chinese animal rights advocate saved 100 dogs from the annual dog meat festival in Yulin, located in southern China. Yang Xiaoyun, a 65-year-old retired teacher, opened a shelter for homeless dogs and cats in 1999 called “Common Home for All,” which now houses over 1,500 animals. According to the Huffington Post, this weekend she travelled 1,500 miles to Yulin, in order to save 100 dogs slated for slaughter as part of the city’s dog meat festival. The effort cost her about $1,100.
In an article for CNN, Peter Li, a China policy specialist at Humane Society International (HSI), writes that 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for food at the Yulin festival every year. He explains that, although there is a long history of eating dogs in China, the Yulin dog meat festival is relatively new, having started in 2009. Upsetting images of the festival show thousands of dogs and cats crowded into cages, many of them clearly ill, injured, or starving. Li told the MailOnline that, when he visited the slaughterhouses as part of an HSI investigation, he saw many dogs and cats wearing collars, suggesting that these animals were pets that had been stolen.
Although Yang Xiaoyun’s efforts have saved hundreds of animals (according to India Times, she saved 360 dogs from the festival last year), it will take more than a single person to end the dog meat festival in Yulin. Li writes in CNN that, on the whole, he “believe[s] the dog meat industry is fighting a losing battle.” The Yulin festival, as well as other purveyors of dog meat, are facing external pressure from animal welfare activists around the world to end the practice of eating dogs and cats as food. Furthermore, he suggests that the cultural attitude toward companion animals in China is changing significantly, with more young people moving into the cities and keeping dogs and cats as beloved pets. He writes, “This new generation of Chinese see cats and dogs as thinking, feeling individuals deserving of compassion. Most importantly, they are friends, not food.”
Xiaoyun says she has plans to open another rescue shelter to save more animals as soon as possible.
Images: Getty (6)