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Yulin govt denies organizing dog meat festival as opposition grows

2014-06-09 08:48 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Local government in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has claimed it has never organized any form of dog meat festival amid an increasing chorus of protests from animal rights activists, legal professionals, celebrities and food safety experts.

The annual festival, which starts June 21 on the summer solstice, involves eating dog meat hotpot and lychees and drinking strong liquor. It has been a local tradition for decades and attracts thousands of diners every year.

Strong emotional attachment to the loyal companion animal is the main reason for opponents to protest the festival, while they also claim that a large portion of meat served in the market came from pet dogs that were brutally killed.

Yet many others hold different opinions. A survey conducted by Sina which attracted over 50,000 people as of press time Sunday showed that more than 60 percent of respondents do not agree with the protest as eating dog meat is not against any laws and the activists should not interfere with others' rights or tradition. Meanwhile, 31 percent said eating dog meat is unacceptable.

Vendors in Yulin said that they only sell "edible dogs" that are bred like other livestock. Wei Wanli, an official with the local livestock management bureau, also said that these dogs need to pass a quarantine test before entering the market, according to the West China Metropolis Daily.

The Ministry of Agriculture issued a quarantine regulation on dogs and cats last year, requiring laboratory quarantine for the animals before they are transported.

"But in practice, this regulation is not well-enforced," said Liu Lang, director of the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Numerous media reports in recent years have highlighted the illegal hunting and slaughter of stray dogs, which drew worries about food safety as the meat could be infected.

A 600-year dog meat festival in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province was canceled permanently in 2011. Yulin government said it has never been an official activity and vowed to strengthen quarantine inspection and punishment of illegal dog theft.

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