China dog-meat festival: Protesters deliver big petition to stop the festival
An file picture of animal activists loading a cage holding dogs which they bought from vendors ahead of the annual dog meat festival in Yulin. Reuters

China's annual dog meat festival has begun in Yulin despite people demanding that wet markets not be opened. The annual event, also called Yulin dog meat festival, is a 10-day affair that started on June 21 and will go on till June 30 at Yulin in Guangxi province of China.

But this time due to fear of coronavirus and cases increasing in Beijing, the number of visitors to the Yulin festival market has come down considerably, say reports. But as it is being considered an officially recognized annual event, quite a large number of people came out and visited the market despite the troubling situation.

The event is held during the hottest weeks of the year. The first time the event was officially held was in 2009. There have been protests against using dogs as livestock. Every year a large number of activists are seen protesting against the dog meat festival. Official memorandums have been submitted to the Yulin municipality to stop the festival, but to no avail..

Dog is no More Livestock, China Recognizes it as Pets

Eating dog meat is not illegal in China. According to reports, at least 20 million dogs are killed for consumption every year. But one positive change is that in April this year, China recognized dogs as pets in the wake of spread of coronavirus in the wet markets.

Till recently dogs were considered livestock just like pigs and chicken. China has 62 million dogs registered as pets.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also explained changes by reclassifying dogs as pets. Accordingly, dogs cannot be bred for food, milk, fur, fiber, medicine, or for military or sports purposes.

Why Yulin Dog Meat Festival Needs to Stop

Yulin is a live market where it is said that dogs are crammed into small wire cages, kept without food as the stall owners wait for customers. The dogs' throats are slit in front of customers and many dogs are reportedly beaten up, some even burnt or boiled.

Such horrific treatment of dogs have led to protests. Over the years protests have intensified and the reclassification of dogs as pets has given hope to activists that the dog meat festival will be stopped in the near future and its sales will be stopped in the wet market.

Adding to the protests and fears of coronavirus spread, even the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned China that the dog trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera.