Animal welfare organisations across China have agreed to work together against the “criminal and cruel” dog and cat meat industry.
Over 170 delegates were in attendance at the 4th China Companion Animal Symposium in Changsha, Hunan Province hosted by Animals Asia Foundation and co-organised by Humane Society International (HSI) and Changsha Small Animal Protection Association. They represented around 100 NGOs including both grassroots Chinese organisations and international charities.
By chance the symposium took place as the Yulin summer solstice dog-eating festival went ahead in Guangxi Yulin province, despite increased local and international pressure for it to end.
Survey data presented to delegates at Changsha, collected from across 28 provinces, showed that the dog meat industry continues to rely on animals stolen from homes as well as strays. Many such dogs are poisoned before being taken to markets and restaurants and are served with toxic residues still present.
Delegates shared evidence that criminality extends to every level of the dog meat trade from theft, through to transportation and sale. The shared findings will be published later this year.
Those attending agreed a final resolution to work together across China towards common goals. Specifically reducing demand through increased public awareness of the cruelty and health risks associated with dog and cat meat and working with the government to highlight and crackdown on the inherent illegalities of the trade.
Alongside internationally-renowned experts, local activists were also encouraged to share experiences on how best to work within the law and with the government to combat illegal business practice by the dog and cat meat industry. Best practice was also shared to assist grassroots organisations in their growth and increased effectiveness.
In the seven years since the symposium started the number of NGOs represented has more than trebled, reflecting the increased interest in animal welfare in China.
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said:
“The reality is the dog and cat meat industry is characterised by criminality and cruelty. It can only profit from and continue its inhumane industry from outside of the law. Animals are stolen, suffer horrendous conditions and customers are ultimately put at risk. This is endemic throughout the trade.
“What we are seeing in China now is a growth in both individuals and organisations that are absolutely committed to ending this trade. The widespread illegality of the industry is what makes it vulnerable and we will work with local authorities and government to ensure the law is upheld.”
Animals Asia China Cat and Dog Welfare Manager Suki Deng added:
“We were all very much aware that as the symposium took place, the Yulin Summer Solstice festival was happening simultaneously in Guangxi Yulin. The dog-eating element of the festival has been cause for concern both in China and internationally with activists across the world condemning the event.
“Arguments for continuing the festival have tended to hinge on the boosts to local commerce but we counter that no city benefits by being so closely associated with either animal cruelty nor criminal behaviour. As with the wider industry itself there are far more reasons to end it for good than to continue to accept the many negatives.”