The Yulin Lychee Festival - Statement From Our Co-..


THE YULIN LYCHEE FESTIVAL – statement from our co-founder John Dalley.

“The Yulin Lychee and Dog meat festival has come around again. I feel it is important for people to understand the current situation, especially in light of recent news surrounding the use of dogs and cats for meat and fur in China.

Please be aware that Yulin is a large city of around 5.5 million inhabitants in one of the three dog meat eating provinces in Southern China. Dog meat is also consumed in the North East of the country where there are many ethnic Koreans living. As such Yulin like many other cities in that region has many dog meat restaurants and markets selling live dogs and butchered meat. We are advised by Hong Kong Based World Dog alliance that there are over 170 restaurants in Yulin specialising in dog meat. This is a 365 day per year trade, and many photos of Yulin markets are taken year around. As sales dropped dog meat traders added dog meat to the festival in 2009. The local administration have never recognised the festival as official, and publicly distanced themselves from it and banned all government employees from involvement.

The festival does continue but is much smaller than before, and respected Chinese based animal welfare groups have pointed out that traders and others are bringing extra dogs in for the sole purpose of selling them to activists at grossly inflated prices. There is a suggestion that activists are keeping the festival going because of this. A reporter for the Daily Mail, reporting on a previous festival, noted hotel staff were asking for time off to go out to the country to buy dogs to sell to activists. Soi Dog Foundation believes that buying dogs from traders or buying out Korean dog farms does nothing to stop the dog meat industry. Like any industry it is driven by supply and demand, and with demand falling in most countries then traders and farms will go out of business. Buying dogs simply means more dogs will be killed to replace them if the demand is there. It is a sad fact the majority of dogs purchased at Yulin, and from Korean dog farms died shortly afterwards. Many euthanised after being shipped to the United States. As horrible as it is to see dogs on sale at markets, Soi Dog has never purchased dogs from these places to rescue them, as we know we would simply be encouraging the trade.

We have intercepted thousands of dogs in Thailand destined for Vietnam and seen the local consumption of dogs and cats made illegal. We have assisted dogs in China get to the US that were abandoned by their purchaser, and in Korea abandoned by farmers after petitioning and advertising by ourselves and others led to closure of markets. But we will not buy dogs. We are currently focusing our work on ending the dog meat industry in Vietnam and Cambodia. Vietnam is probably now the largest consumer, and unlike China have not made any statement in relation to dog and cat meat. We continue to campaign for changes in the law, as only if laws are introduced can change happen.

What about the new law in China?

Jill Robinson, CEO of the highly respected Chinese based charity Animals Asia who has been working in China for many years has advised me that:

“The removal of dogs from the Livestock Catalogue means specifically that it is now illegal to sell dogs (and by default cats as they were never on the list) and their meat for consumption.

During the public consultation period for the Catalogue, the majority of the comments on “whether or not to include dogs in the Catalogue” were in favour of excluding dogs from the Catalogue. Although the omission of dogs from the Catalogue is not an explicit outright ban on consumption, the Catalogue, coupled with the existing Food Safety Law, Animal Disease Prevention Law and other laws and regulations will further illustrate the fact that this chain is illegal. This means all the dog restaurants, markets and slaughterhouses countrywide selling dogs for food are now illegal.

However, if you have your own dog you can kill and eat it -but you’re not allowed to sell the meat or any dogs you have bred for meat. So markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants, effective immediately, are now behaving illegally if they sell dog and cat meat for food. Shenzhen and Zhuhai have gone one step further and banned the actual consumption of dog meat too – and we will of course be promoting this action to other cities and provinces with whom we work.

While the Catalogue is a legal document, it is not a piece of legislation, so even though it sets binding rules people have to follow, it does not stipulate penalties. These will be covered by various other laws and the actual implementation of this won’t happen overnight – and we expect to see push-back in the industry – but the mechanism is there to end it over time. “

China has taken the first step and should be congratulated for doing so. Clearly, it is going to take time for the law to be implemented and followed across the country. In Thailand, it has been illegal for over 5 years, yet we are still erecting posters warning people that it is illegal to kill dogs and cats as they are not livestock animals. But it is now very much a small minority who continue to ignore the law, and our job is to try and ensure when we hear about people eating or selling dog meat, that we get the police to arrest and prosecute them. This should also now be the focus in China, and to encourage other cities to follow the example of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

We must also realise that in poorer areas no population control exists, and there are very few if any qualified small animal vets. Soi Dog Foundation now sterilises and directly treats more animals than any organisation in the world. Nearly 120,000 sterilisations alone in 2019. Unless the underlying cause of too many unwanted dogs and cats is addressed, then politicians may well be reluctant to introduce laws that prevent using the animals for consumption, as they realise there will be a huge increase in stray dogs and cats. Soi Dog Foundation are now training Vietnamese and Burmese vets in sterilisation techniques but we can only do so much on our own, and there is a real need for organisations in China and other countries to do more to solve the underlying problem.”



Soi Dog Foundation

Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit, legally registered charitable organization in Thailand, the United States, Australia, the UK, France and Holland. Soi Dog helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand. Our aim is to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, and to better the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia.

De-sexing (Sterilization) has been proven to be the most effective way to help the animals. Soi Dog has has reached a milestone of over 39,000 dogs and cats sterilized! Totaling 39,050 dogs and cats as of June 2012. Soi Dog is made up of people like yourself, be they financial supporters, field or shelter volunteers, fundraisers etc. with a common goal of helping neglected and abused dogs & cats.

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