NEWS: Animals Asia advises caution over Yulin dog meat festival closure

18 May 2017

International media is reporting that this year’s Yulin dog meat festival will not be allowed to take place due to a week-long moratorium on the sale of dog meat in the city.

Local authorities have not yet released an announcement although Animals Asia sources in Yulin claim a “secret ban” has been instigated by the local Food and Drug Administration.

Restaurateurs, markets and slaughterhouses were told in late April they would face fines if found to be selling dog meat in the week following June 15, with the festival falling on June 21.

Sources differ as to how long the moratorium will continue, some state dog meat will once again be sold on the 22nd, while others claim it will not end until the 24th.

It is believed the ban applies to official restaurants, markets and slaughterhouses raising the possibility street vendors could continue to sell dog meat. In addition there are fears that restaurants could instead offer “takeout” to circumnavigate the ban – or they may go to out of town areas where the verbal notice has not been received. 

Mobile vendors on commercial pedestrian street in downtown (dog meat noodle on its menu)

Animals Asia’s Cat and Dog Welfare Director Irene Feng said:

“If true, this is an encouraging step by the government showing a clear political will from the city to distance itself from the cruelty of dog meat eating. It is clear that years of campaigning by charities and animal lovers has had an affect.

“However, while being heartened by this, we must keep this news in perspective. It remains to be seen how this ban will pan out in practice. Without an official announcement, we cannot yet be sure that any ban will happen or be enforced.

“Also, in previous years, the people of Yulin have held their dog eating celebrations at different times to avoid protestors and condemnation. With the ban expected to end soon after the festival was to take place – it’s possible we will see gatherings come together soon after the ban ends.

“It’s also likely that dog meat traders, restaurants and resolute dog meat eaters will rebel against this news. We would expect dog meat eating not just in spite of this ban but also in defiance of it. 

Yulin day 2

“All of which means the festival is not yet ended. The people of Yulin eat dog meat all year round, as does a minority across China, resulting in around 10 million dogs being slaughtered annually. We haven’t yet won this battle, never mind the war to end all dog and cat meat eating, but this is a significant breakthrough.

“What it does show is that dog meat eating has fewer and fewer friends in government and it is becoming an increasing embarrassment to authorities. It survives on cruelty and criminality and, as such, its removal would arguably solve a great many problems for China as a whole.”

Dogs in cage

Animals Asia has been working to end the Yulin dog meat festival since 2012. In 2016, the charity’s open letter to Yulin’s dog meat vendors was signed by a quarter of a million people around the world and shared within China by local celebrities to an audience of millions.

Animals Asia’s Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“This is an issue for China that won’t go away – and that is thanks to the efforts of compassionate people around the world, both inside and outside of China.

“Increasingly that debate is being won, and particularly the majority of young people have no interest in eating dog meat. They have learned about the illegality rife in the industry, with dogs being poisoned and stolen from the streets or loving homes.

“But while dog meat eating is legal within China, those wanting to eat in defiance of public opinion and any proposed moratoriums will find a way.

“What we need now is to make sure the message is heard outside of Yulin, on all the other days of the year when millions of dogs die for their meat. We need to continue working with the authorities, with Chinese organisations and with the public to change opinions and prove that dogs are friends, not food.”

Yulin day 2

A long-term Animals Asia investigation into the dog and cat meat trade in China found widespread illegality and public health concerns. The investigation, released in 2015, found no evidence of any large-scale farms, fuelling long-standing accusations that most meat dogs are stolen pets and strays.

Many of these animals are poisoned during capture or have no proof of origin and vaccination histories as required by law – raising serious health concerns.

With so many pets being stolen and little police action, vigilante violence has become common with both dog thieves and owners being killed in brutal confrontations across the country.

Animals Asia deploys a holistic approach to ending the cat and dog meat trade which runs year-round.

Yulin day 2


June 2009 – The first Yulin dog meat festival is promoted as a trade event to boost the local economy.

Jan 2011 – Animals Asia monitors visit local markets and restaurants in Yulin to investigate how the trade had grown in recent years.

June 2012 – Animals Asia lobbies Yulin authorities to rethink its association with the Yulin Dog Meat and Lychee Festival in the light of evidence revealing widespread cruelty and criminality in the industry.

June 2013 – Animals Asia lobbies Yulin authorities and promotes awareness of the cruelty and criminality involved as part of a larger campaign within China. The campaign is boosted as celebrities join the fight. 

May 2014  - Our in-depth report detailing the illegality, cruelty and health risks rife in the industry is sent to 15 government departments. Finally, evidence shows the dogs slaughtered and eaten in Yulin – and China – are taken from families or caught in the street.

June 2014 – As pressure grows, Yulin authorities announce a crackdown with food safety officials strengthening market supervision, asking restaurants not to advertise dog meat, beginning their own healthy food culture campaign and ordering government officials to stay away from the event.

May 2015 –A publicrelease of Animals Asia’s four-year in-depth investigation into the illegality in China’s dog and cat meat industry. An open letter, “Strengthening Regulations and Banning the Illegal Chain of Cat and Dog Meat” is issued to local authorities across China including Yulin.

2016 – Lobbying, awareness raising and monitoring continues while a quarter of a million people sign an Animals Asia’s open letter urging Yulin’s dog meat vendors to end their association with the cruel trade.

June 2016 – The festival is reported to have shrunk to around 1,000 slaughtered dogs, following a peak of 10,000 dogs.

June 2016 - Over 80 Chinese non-profits add their name to an open letter asking animal lovers and NGOs not to buy dogs for rescue – after reports of increased profits for traders and concern over future care for purchased dogs.

March 2017 – Animals Asia’s sister organisation Ya Dong visits Yulin to monitor the industry’s scale and public perception outside of the festival. It’s clear dog meat sales continue year round.

May 2017 – Worldwide reports suggest a week-long ban on dog meat sales within Yulin will be implemented in the run up to the festival in June.

Dog meat stall