China's dog meat festival raises hackles of fans and opponents

Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:50pm EDT
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By Natalie Thomas

YULIN, China (Reuters) - For many residents of China's southern town of Yulin, the peak of summer is the perfect time to get together with family and friends - and consume copious amounts of dog meat.

Thousands of dogs are expected to end up on the chopping block during the city's annual dog meat festival, which has become increasingly controversial in China.

Dog ownership was once looked down upon as a decadent bourgeois habit, but China's growing middle class has started to fight what it sees as barbarous abuse of man's best friend.

On Monday, a group of about 25 animal rights activists briefly unfurled banners in front of the city government office, demanding an end to the festival, but they were quickly hustled away by unidentified men.

The city's dog market has become a site for clashes of supporters and opponents of the trade. In the sweltering heat, tempers can often flare.

"There are all sorts of cultural norms about what you can eat, you eat turkey, so why are you trying to force us to not eat dog meat?" shouted one dog meat supporter. 

Eating dog is good for your health at the hottest time of the year, say supporters, and it is just like any other meat.

"It's healthy, just like raising pigs or chickens, it's fine," said Teng Jianyi, as he tucked into a dog dish with some friends.   Continued...

People eat dog meat at a dog meat restaurant district on the day of local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon