Chinese dog meat festival: Woman who saved 500 dogs from slaughter describes Yulin horror

'The market was blanketed by blood': Yang Xiaoyun says her dog shelters have saved thousands of animals – but her passion has come at significant cost

Adam Withnall
Thursday 02 July 2015 21:47 BST
Crowds gathered after Yang Xiaoyun came to the market and announced she wanted to purchase 100 dogs (China Out/AFP/Getty Images)
Crowds gathered after Yang Xiaoyun came to the market and announced she wanted to purchase 100 dogs (China Out/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman who spent more than £30,000 saving 600 pets from this year’s Yulin dog meat festival in China has described the horrors of trying to save the animals at first hand.

While hundreds of thousands of people around the world have expressed outrage and signed petitions calling for the annual event to be banned, 66-year-old widow Yang Xiaoyun set about doing something herself to save the dogs.

An animal-lover who runs a number of shelters 1,500 miles away from Yulin in Tianjin, northern China, Ms Yang said she first came to the festival in 2013 and was shocked by what she saw.

Yang Xiaoyun purchased the dogs to save them from slaughter

She has come back each year since and at last month’s event, held to mark the summer solstice, she rescued 500 dogs and 100 cats.

But in an interview with the Mail Online, she said her good nature had been exploited by the dog meat vendors who, recognising her from previous years, hiked up their prices and threatened animals with even more brutal deaths if she refused to pay.

“When I returned to the market the vendors surrounded me, mocking me and asking, 'How much money did you bring this time?’” she recalled.

Ms Yang said the animals at the festival were killed in unspeakably cruel ways, some reportedly even blowtorched alive. “The market was blanketed by blood,” she said.

The hundreds of animals Ms Yang saved have now been driven up to Tianjin where they will be rehomed.

And Ms Yang – who was for a time ostracised by her family for spending their inheritance on the dogs – told the Mail she planned to open a vegetarian restaurant and shelter near Yulin so animals don’t have to be subjected to the long journey.

The government in Yulin has disassociated itself from the festival since the global outrage ballooned in the last few years – but says it cannot ban what it now terms a private business enterprise.

And despite months of protest involving celebrity figures like comedian Ricky Gervais, the festival, where it is estimated around 10,000 dogs are killed and eaten each year, went ahead as planned.

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