Present Situation for Dogs in China
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival begins in June...
The idea of eating dog is alarming to most countries in the West, where most populations consider dogs as man’s best friend. The consumption of dog meat is absolutely illegal. Conversely, thirty million dogs per year are presently killed across Asia for meat. Somewhere in Asia a dog is slaughtered every second.
This consumption of dog meat is deeply rooted in Chinese tradition; an estimated 10 million dogs per year are killed in China. A third of the population eats dog meat multiple times a year. It isn’t difficult to find restaurants in China’s major cities that specialize in dog meat. Further, the widely celebrated Yulin Dog Meat Festival is held annually in June. For ten horrifying days, dogs are joyously killed by communities across China and are consumed with hullabaloo and merriment.
Historically, dogs were used by the ancient Chinese as hunting dogs, kept and trained by many Chinese emperors. Dogs were also used as livestock for agricultural purposes. Eventually, they were uncommon in Chinese cities altogether, as they no longer served a purpose.
In the early 1990’s dogs were banned in most urban areas. While several breeds (Pekingese, Shar Pei, and Tibetan Mastiff) thrived in China and are still held in high regard today, other pure and mixed breed dogs have not fared as well, including Golden Retrievers.
The rise of China’s modern middle class and a shift in attitudes about animal intelligence and welfare has led to a sharp rise in ownership of dogs as pets. Dogs are also becoming more common on streets in Chinese cities as the health benefits of dog ownership have become apparent.
While attitudes towards the eating of dog meat vary widely from person to person, most still consider it as acceptable as eating pork or chicken. In the last decade, activist groups have formed who are vehemently against the inclusion of dog meat in cuisine. These groups hijack trucks full of dogs bound for the slaughter houses and allocate them to humane owners to be raised as pets.
Sadly, China’s government has not caught up with the modern attitudes of its people, and dog lovers in China face numerous challenges. Dogs must be registered and local governments forbid the ownership of medium and large dogs. Overzealous local enforcers confiscate and kill any pet that is not small. China also lacks any laws regarding animal cruelty; so, if a dog is mistreated or even killed by its owner, there are no repercussions.
Some US Veterinarian Schools are partnering with vets in China to change the cultural paradigm. US vets have also begun hosting clinical rotations at sites abroad to reinforce the belief that dogs are beloved pets and family members. Finally, animal rescue organizations across the United States are dedicated to stopping this inhumane treatment. Many, including ours, are frantically working to transport dogs to the US for adoption so they can thrive in a loving and safe forever home. However, it’s not easy, it’s expensive, and we need your help!