Chinese experts this month sent a letter to the government of Yulin, home of the annual and widely controversial dog meat festival, imploring that the traditional gathering of mass canine consumption be brought to an end, as it can increase the risk of contracting rabies.
The seven experts in the fields of veterinary medicine, law and animal welfare said in the letter that the long-distance transport of live dogs further aids the contraction and spread of the deadly viral infection.
In past years, more than 10,000 dogs were estimated to have been slaughtered for the festival, which falls on June 21 every year. Due in part to the barrage of activists and animal-lovers who arrived in Yulin to protest the event this past year, however, it’s believed that only some 2,000 canines were consumed at participating restaurants.
The Yulin government has long denied any involvement in organizing the event, yet it insists that it cannot put an end to the activity because China doesn’t outlaw eating dog meat. Experts in the letter urged the government to step in, or else face a potential link to a rabies outbreak, according to Xinhua.
“Transporting and butchering so many dogs, if they haven’t had the rabies vaccine, will pose a certain risk to those who do the job,” the letter said.
Furthermore, the experts pointed to food safety concerns due to unclear sourcing of the dogs. Citing their own investigations, animal welfare groups claim that most of the dogs consumed during the event are strays and pets as well as dogs stolen or poisoned, in Yulin or from other parts of the country.
Certainly enough, just two months ago in Zhejiang, 17 men pled guilty to trading in tons of toxic dog meat which ended up on dinner plates at restaurants. Between 2012 and 2013, the men killed 95 dogs in Ningbo city by poisoning them with cyanide or by shooting them with anesthetic needles.
The Yulin government denies any such risks and says that safety checks have been put in place regulating shipments of dogs that come into the city. Loopholes in the system, however, were acknowledged.
The local government agreed that for now, it would condemn and strictly prohibit public displays of killing during the festival, after last June’s event saw vendors trying to extort money from animal lovers by cruelly swinging dogs around by their necks in a taunting display.
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