10-DAY CHINA DOG-MEAT FAIR OPENS IN YULIN
China's notorious dog-meat festival has opened despite a government campaign to improve animal welfare and reduce risks to health highlighted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, but activists are hopeful its days are numbered, David Stanway reported for Reuters late on June 22, 2020.
The annual 10-day festival in the southwestern city of Yulin usually attracts thousands of visitors, many of whom buy dogs for the pot that are on display in cramped cages, but campaigners said the numbers this year have dwindled.
The government is drawing up new laws to prohibit the wildlife trade and protect pets, and campaigners are hoping that this year will be the last time the festival is held. The agriculture ministry also decided to classify dogs as pets rather than livestock, though it remains unclear how the reclassification will affect Yulin's trade. Shenzhen has already banned the slaughter of dogs and the sale of their meat.
"I do hope Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people," said Peter Li, China policy specialist with the Humane Society International, an animal rights group. "Allowing mass gatherings to trade in and consume dog meat in crowded markets and restaurants in the name of a festival poses a significant public health risk," he said.