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The Controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival

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Whiskers, Paws and Love Inc. Team

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The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival (or Yulin Dog Meat Festival) is an annual festival held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in which festival goers eat dog meat and lychees.

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    In the heart of Guangxi, China, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, also known as the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, has sparked significant controversy. Held annually during the summer solstice, most recently from June 21 to 30, 2024, this event features festival-goers consuming dog meat and lychees, a practice that has faced criticism both domestically and internationally.

    The festival, which began in 2009, spans about ten days and has reportedly seen the consumption of thousands of cats and dogs each year. Early reports suggested that up to 10,000 cats and dogs were consumed annually, though this number has fluctuated, with estimates dropping to around 1,000 in recent years. Despite claims from organizers that the animals are killed humanely, animal rights activists argue that the animals are subjected to cruel treatment, including being tortured or boiled alive to enhance the flavor of their meat.

    The festival's origins are not steeped in ancient tradition but were rather created by dog traders in 2010 to boost profits. This lack of historical precedent has fueled criticism, especially as consuming dog meat is not illegal in China, leaving authorities with little legal ground to intervene. Reports have also highlighted that many of the cats and dogs consumed are either strays or stolen pets, with a 2015 survey indicating that 70% of rural villages in China have experienced mysterious dog losses.

    The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant changes in 2020 when the Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China declared dogs as companions, not livestock, effectively banning their commercial slaughter and sale. Despite this, the festival resumed in June 2020, albeit with fewer attendees.

    Domestic reactions have been mixed but increasingly critical. In 2016, 1,000 dogs were rescued from the festival, and a petition with 11 million signatures calling for an end to the event was presented to Yulin government offices. Chinese celebrities and millions of citizens have voiced their opposition, and legislative proposals to ban the dog meat trade have garnered substantial support.

    Internationally, the festival has been condemned by public figures and politicians alike. U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings introduced a bipartisan resolution in 2016 condemning the festival, and celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Joaquin Phoenix have publicly denounced it. Social media campaigns have played a crucial role in spreading awareness, with hashtags like #stopyulinforever gaining traction globally.

    Despite the widespread condemnation, some argue that the outrage is rooted in cultural relativism. Critics point out that Western practices of animal slaughter are not without their own ethical issues, suggesting that the focus should be on improving animal welfare universally rather than singling out specific cultural practices.

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