Health workers have allegedly been ordered not to eat dog in public and so avoid public criticism as a controversial annual dog meat festival approaches in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Although there is no official announcement, two doctors from Yulin maternal and child care service center confirmed with the Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily that they have received the order requiring doctors, nurses and their families not eat dog in public.
But a center deputy director said they never had any such order, the report said.
The annual festival held during the Summer Solstice has received increasing criticism from animal rights activists and sparked a national debate about outside interference with the traditional dog meat festival.
Local restaurants have been advised by authorities to remove "dog" signs from their restaurant names and menus to avoid provoking dog lovers, earlier reports said.
Internet users say that health authorities, like dog meat restaurants, have been intimidated by the criticism from advocates of compassion for the animals.
Yulin government also clarified it does not support or sponsor the non-government festival.
A survey by news portal Sina of more than 68,000 people found that more than 63 percent of respondents did not agree with the protest at press time.
Eating dog is not against any laws and the activists should not interfere with others' rights or traditions, they agreed. Some 31 percent said eating dog was unacceptable.