(ECNS) - More than 1,400 dogs rescued from being slaughtered for the controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival have died amid waning voluntary support, Cankao Xiaoxi (Reference News) reports.
Many dog lovers paid out of their own pockets to buy dogs from vendors, who had planned to sell them during the festival. About 1,381 dogs from Yulin in Southwest China's Guangxi autonomous region were transported to a base in Gaoyou, East China's Jiangsu province, a journey of 35-hours, in July.
The shabby base, built in an area rented from local farmers, already housed about 400 dogs saved from the festival last year.
Some of the saved dogs got sick and died on an almost daily basis since arrival, sources say. The number of volunteers working there also dropped to only three. Decreasing support from animal activists has also become an issue.
Chang Fen, a volunteer from Guangzhou city, said the base now faces the danger of being shut down due to a lack of donations.
An official in charge of epidemic prevention said the dogs should be returned to Yulin because they lacked the required quarantine proofs to be raised in Gaoyou.
Hu Xiaowu, an associate professor of sociology, says the civic campaign to save dogs is more symbolic than practical in China. The care of saved dogs, the management and cost are real tests for volunteers.
"We respect this kind of rescue operation, but it's also true that civic forces alone lack sustainability," Hu added.
Dog meat is particularly popular in Yulin during summer when both locals as well as visitors gather for the festival. In recent years, it has become the focal point of dog lovers, forcing the local government to water down its scale.