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Dog slaughter continues

10-17-2011 09:37 BJT

Animal rights activists have been arriving in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province in recent days after a "dog-eating festival," which was scheduled to open tomorrow in the city, was canceled amid online protests against the event.

A truck loaded with dogs is seen leaving Jinhua, Zhejiang Province yesterday. Photo: Wen Ya/GT

Meanwhile, animal rights activists intercepted three trucks loaded with about 1,000 dogs in Zigong, Sichuan Province Sunday and refused to pay the dog dealer to free them.

The latest incidents once again showed the crisis facing one of the country's traditional dishes.

A Global Times reporter witnessed animal protection activists swarm into Jinhua in the past few days to check whether the local government's decision to cancel the festival was properly implemented.

Though no sign of large-scale killing was discovered Sunday, the activists are still not satisfied with the current situation.

"I saw 20 dogs being held in a big cage, and beside the cage there is a basin of boiling water. Two dogs have been killed," Du Yufeng, the founder and director of the Boai Animal Protection Center in Guangyuan, Sichuan Province, told the Global Times.

"We wanted to buy the dogs, but the dealer sensed our motive and refused, probably fearing that we may gather evidence against him," Du said.

Another activist surnamed Wang said he saw three trucks loaded with several hundred dogs heading to other cities from Jinhua Sunday.

Local residents have also become suspicious of outsiders.

"Are you a journalist? We kill the dogs only to feed ourselves," a couple told the Global Times reporter while removing the skin of a dead dog.

In early September, animal rights activists began to upload pictures of the festival online showing dogs being slaughtered in public. A single thread protesting the festival on the Sina microblog was forwarded more than 100,000 times.

After debates on tradition, food safety and other aspects of the event, the local government announced September 19 that it had canceled the festival.

Some animal activists are now planning to hold a pet day tomorrow to promote the concept of caring for dogs and other pets.

However, their views were not shared by everyone.

"I am opposed to the cancellation. Eating dogs is no different than eating chickens, sheep or pigs," a Jinhua resident told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity.

"Jinhua will become less lively if the festival is gone. In past years several hundred tons of dog meat were sold," another resident said.

According to the Qianjiang Evening News, slaughtering dogs in public is not part of the tradition in Jinhua. In recent years, some traders sold poisoned dogs during the event, which forced other traders to kill dogs on site to prove their dogs were clean.

Some locals also argued that they never regarded the dog-eating festival as their tradition.

"We only have a temple fair that commemorates Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Dog meat is served during the fair, but it has never been considered a major part of it," Chen Dunfu, 67, told the Wucheng News, a local news portal.

"Dog-eating only became popular in the past 10 to 20 years as people's livelihoods improved, and the festival was started less than 10 years ago," 50-year-old Chen Guilu told the portal.

Separately, a group of activists intercepted three trucks loaded with 1,000 dogs in Zigong on Saturday, although the dog dealer showed all the required documents for the business.

The local industry and commerce bureau said the dealer had done nothing illegal, and therefore could not confiscate the dogs.

The dealer demanded 120,000 yuan for the dogs, but the activists refused. The local government has sent officials to the scene to mediate.

Dog meat is part of the traditional Chinese diet, and while the law does not forbid its consumption, the growth in animal rights groups has resulted in clashes in recent years.

In April, a trucked carrying about 500 dogs was seized by animal activists in Beijing. The incident ended with the activists paying 100,000 yuan for the dogs, which were later sent to a local animal protection center.

Prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Beijing ordered all hotels that signed contracts with the event to stop buying and offering dog meat out of respect for countries that were not used to such a habit.

"What one group of people considers food reflects their interactive relationship with nature," Jiang Jinsong, a professor of scientific philosophy at the Tsinghua University, told the Global Times in an earlier interview.

"In a country where most of its urban population doesn't have to worry about food shortages or malnutrition, eating dogs makes less sense than it might have at a certain point in history," Jiang said.


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Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Global Times

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