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Friend, not food: Why China needs to stop dog meat festival

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(CNN)Every year during the summer solstice, residents of Yulin, a city in southeast China, take part in a festival created by dog meat traders to boost the sale of dog meat.

It’s a dwindling market and, to more and more Chinese, an embarrassment.
    The horrific images pouring out of Yulin around this time of year — images of dogs of various breeds and sizes crammed in tiny cages and then beaten to death — have created an international backlash that has not gone unnoticed by local authorities.
    To millions around the world, including some people in China, these dogs are friends and companions — never to be abused or eaten.
    Once a sponsor, the Yulin government now distances itselffrom the cruelty, and much of the trade and slaughter is conducted indoors and at night.
    But Yulin needs to go much further by canceling this cruel “festival” outright.
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    Slaughterhouse cruelty

    The suffering of each of dog at this event is unspeakable.
    I visited Yulin last year, venturing into the dog meat marketplaces, often in the middle of the night, to document the cruelty of slaughterhouses.
    The dogs are forlorn, sick, tired and hungry. They are beaten indiscriminately before being slaughtered. Many still wear collars, revealing that they were once beloved pets. They are far away from home, and far from the love and care they expect and deserve from their human companions. These memories haunt me still.
    Sadly, this scene plays out in other major dog meat markets. Yulin is only a small part of the Chinese dog meat trade.
    Every year an estimated 10 million dogs are consumed for meat in China, according to a 2014 commercial report on the dog meat industry published by ASKCI.
    As in every country where dog meat is consumed, the trade here is brutal.
    But in a vast country like China, it takes a particularly cruel turn — dogs are transported for thousands of miles, often through extreme terrain and temperatures, to the slaughterhouses.
    Each truck can carry hundreds of dogs stuffed in tiny wire cages that don’t permit them to move. Volunteers found they are given no food or water, and often arrive sick, injured, traumatized or dead.
    But not only is this cruel, it’s also illegal in China. China’s food safety regulations ban the processing, selling and serving of products made from diseased animals, or those which died from unknown causes. China’s animal transport laws also require each dog to carry a certificate of origin.
    And that’s not mentioning that we believe many of these dogs are stolen pets.

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    Countless millions more have made their voices heard on social media via the #StopYulin hashtag, including celebrities such as Kelly Osbourne, Ricky Gervais and Carrie Fisher — who helped deliver the petition signatures to the Chinese embassy in London last week.
    In Washington, U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida introduced a congressional resolution condemning the dog meat trade.
    I’m making my way again to Yulin this year, as hard as it is, to bear witness to this cruelty until the festival ends forever.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/19/opinions/china-yulin-dog-meat-festival-outrage/index.html

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