On the eve of the very-not-banned Yulin Dog Meat Festival, Chinese animal activist groups have published an open letter calling on their fellow animal lovers not to rescue dogs from the slaughterhouse this year by buying them from traders — even if it seems like the right thing to do.
Each summer, a small army of animal activists travel down to the Guangxi city of Yulin ahead of the infamous annual festival to purchase dogs before they are shipped to the slaughterhouse. However, more than 100 animal NGOs in China say that this kind of activism actually does more harm than good.
According to Animals Asia, the groups say that rescuing dogs by buying them only helps to fuel the dog trade by increasing profits for traders who benefit from the increased demand and can ask for higher prices. While large-scale rescues of canines may make for good publicity, they are even better for the traders’ pockets. In 2015, a group of dog lovers reportedly spent 500,000 yuan rescuing 1,381 dogs in Yulin.
Additionally, the open letter also argued that publicly-funded dog rescue campaigns are ripe for deception and fraud. There is often very little transparency in these kind of operations and no guarantees about the dogs being properly taken care of after they are rescued, meaning that kindhearted donors are at risk of being ripped off.
In the past, there have multiple reports of dogs being bought up and saved from the slaughterhouses of Yulin, only to die shortly afterwards due to lack of care. Reportedly, out of those nearly 1,400 dogs rescued by activists in 2015, only 400 were still alive only two months later, dying off amid disease and shoddy living conditions at an under-staffed shelter.
Similarly, high-profile animal activist Marc Ching claimed to have rescued 1,000 dogs from being slaughtered at least year’s festival, but was later hit with a report from the Daily Mail which alleged that hundreds of those dogs had subsequently died after being denied life-saving injections and medical treatment by the Buddhist organizations which bought them.
The more than 100 Chinese animal activist groups argue that the Yulin festival is in fact the worst time possible for rescuers to buy dogs from traders, explaining that their money can be much better spent by purchasing dogs at other times of the year and in other Chinese cities when and where the prices aren’t nearly so high — thus saving more doggie lives.
You can read the full open letter below with a translation provided by Animals Asia:
1. Despite the number of dogs bought in Yulin, the absolute number of saved dogs is small while the absolute numbers of dogs consumed could yet be increased due to this abnormal stimulation of consumption within the market. By buying dogs in Yulin you objectively become part of the black market dog meat trade.
2. Buying dogs pushes up the local dog meat price, increasing the price during the Summer Solstice period and helps vendors make more profit. This is an abnormal boost even though it enjoys public sympathy.
3. There is the risk of criminal activity and it is open to abuse. Public announcements are not always backed up by transparent accounts and management and the dog meat market price is also affected by public announcements promising dog rescues.
If rescuers have limited funds then Yulin festival is the worst time and location to carry out a paid-for rescue. The inflated price means many more dogs could be rescued away from the region.
4. It is also difficult to track rescued animals after the event. A rescue is just the first step – frequently there is no money for rehabilitation for a large number of dogs. If the dogs have to be rehoused fast then it’s impossible to background check individuals. There remains the risk that these could return back to dog markets. Even those moved by truck to far-flung shelters may die en route. Again it is open to abuse as individuals can exaggerate the number of rescued animals in return for donations.
In order to save lives, dog lovers can buy dogs in their local area and reduce the cost of long distance transportation. This will save more lives, and the dogs may have a better chance to survive after the rescue.
Buying dogs from the highlighted areas boosts the local industry and leads to more innocent deaths while also helping local traders make higher profit. It can even breed unsupervised so-called animal activists with ulterior motives. We firmly say NO to this!
Without an animal protection law and without the local government enforcing strict security supervision, we cannot stop the dog slaughter in Yulin temporarily. While we push for animal protection legislation, we have to face the helpless truth that large numbers of animals will be killed. True animal activists should act more rationally and better use existing laws and regulations to help the cause and make our voices heard.
For example, we can ask to the government to strengthen law enforcement, do more public education work, make more legal challenges, increase correspondence with government, seek more celebrity support, seek more international support and more media coverage. These are all pragmatic methods – not the high-profile buying of dogs, and not fundraising without transparent accounts where neither donations nor dogs can be tracked.
The co-signed animal protection organisations appeal – be a rational animal activist, don’t buy large numbers of dogs at Yulin.
Of course, this plea for rationality is unlikely to stop crusaders like Ching who are already in Yulin doing their thing.
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