It’s difficult to look at images of extreme animal cruelty, but not looking at them doesn’t mean the cruelty isn’t happening, it just means that we choose to close our eyes.
For the thousands of dogs and cats enduring a brutal death for China’s dog meat festival in Yulin this coming weekend, they have no choice. These poor animals, mostly stolen pets and strays, will be beaten to death and even in some cases boiled and burned alive, so that their meat can be eaten during the festival. They will die a truly horrible death, their last moments on this earth filled with fear and pain. As an animal lover, and just as a compassionate human being, I find that completely devastating.
My friends at Humane Society International have exposed the cruelty of Yulin and the dog meat industry multiple times. The footage they have obtained is shocking, and I think we degrade ourselves as humans if we tolerate or ignore this suffering. I’m a vegetarian so I don’t want any animal to be eaten, but I challenge any meat eater to sit through a video of dogs being bludgeoned to death, and not be deeply disturbed by this blatant cruelty.
In the days leading up to Yulin, public outcry has been mounting, but it is often wrongly assumed to be just us in the West wagging our finger at China. Not so. There is a hugely vocal animal protection movement in China, and they don’t need us to tell them that animal cruelty is wrong.
The Yulin festival has been the focus of peaceful protests in more than 50 Chinese towns and cities, and this year a proposal for a nationwide ban on killing dogs and cats for meat was introduced in China, with 2m Chinese people supporting it online. HSI supports many Chinese animal groups and campaigners, all actively engaged in trying to end the dog meat trade. They are incredibly brave, often stopping trucks packed with hundreds of dogs, many of them still wearing their collars, headed for slaughterhouses and events just like Yulin.
I am inspired by these Chinese campaigners. They challenge our assumption that this animal cruelty is a part of Chinese culture, or they welcome the global solidarity that opposition to the Yulin cruelty has created. Far from being an ancient tradition, the Yulin festival was in fact only invented in 2010, and not for culture reasons at all but to boost business for the dog meat traders. Why? Because most people in China don’t actually eat dog and cat meat – it’s not part of the culinary norm in China – and a growing proportion of the population is angry that this trade persists.
Sometimes the scale of animal suffering in the world seems overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel that nothing we do as individuals can make a difference. But doing nothing is not an option. Every single one of us has a voice, and we can use our voice to speak up for those who have none. So I urge you to sign HSI’s petition to the Guangxi Party Secretary Peng Qinghua at and to make your voice heard. And if the Yulin dog meat festival makes you think a little more deeply about all the other animals in the world who suffer for our plate, then that’s a good thing too.
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