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Dog meat festival raises question with no easy answers

By Lin Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-20 1:28:03

Yulin, a city in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is planning to hold its annual Dog Meat Festival on June 21. It is estimated that around 10,000 dogs are killed during the festival every year.

More than 20 Chinese animal protection organizations, including the China Small Animal Protection Association, joined together to sign an urgent appeal, calling for the halt of the dog-eating festival.

This appeal has gained wide support online. In developed areas of China, dogs are increasingly viewed as people's friends and treated as family members. In these places, eating dogs is rejected as uncivilized behavior. But meanwhile, the tradition of eating dog is still stubbornly kept in many places. Dog meat, to some, is no different from pork or beef.

It's not the first time a dog meat festival has undergone media scrutiny. The Dog Meat Festival of Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, was called off in 2011 due to intense public pressure.

Animal rights advocates, some with an aggressive approach, are increasingly clashing with dog traders. A truck with full load of dogs was stopped at a highway outside Beijing in April of 2011. But due to a lack of animal shelters, those dogs that were rescued on the scene couldn't find a proper place to stay for long.

At this time, it appears that the festival of Yulin will go on as planned. Quite a number of local residents hope the tradition can be kept to maintain the city's special flavor. Tradition has crossed swords with modern views at this festival in a small city.

Eating dog is gradually becoming viewed as unacceptable. In South Korea and China's northeast region, where there is long tradition of eating dog meat, the practice is decreasing. Many of these businesses have been transformed into Korean style barbecue restaurants.

In the globalized era, modern practices are swiftly becoming the norm. Many of the local customs are coming under more pressure to be replaced or eliminated. It's not just in China; foie gras and bull fighting for example, are just two cases of time-honored traditions being targeted in the modern era.

There is no easy answer to this. But in Yulin's case, what is definitely unacceptable is the brutal killing of the dogs. Combating animal abuse is probably an easier way for local people to start engaging in animal rights activism.

Posted in: Observer