ACTAsia is pleased to announce that local authorities in China have put in place a ban on the sale of dog meat leading up to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, during which thousands of dogs and cats suffer violent deaths.
Local sources have informed ACTAsia that the municipal authorities have decided to prohibit the sale of dog meat by licensed restaurants, street vendors and market traders for one week during the run up to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
It is reported that the temporary ban will come into effect on the 15th of June, a week prior to the Festival itself on 21st June, and that it will be strictly enforced with fines of up to 100,000 yuan (approx. US $14,500) and/or arrest for violations.
“This is an encouraging step in the right direction from the Chinese authorities, and we congratulate the government on this decision,” said Pei Su, Founder and Executive Director of ACTAsia. “However, we must also realise that this temporary ban raises certain issues. As with any ban which is not supported by the majority of the local population, there are concerns that prohibition on the sale of dog meat will simply force the trade to move underground, or just further away from the city centre. This means that people would only need to drive half an hour further to get dog meat.”
Both outcomes could result in the actual rise of prices for ‘banned’ dog meat, giving traders a better source of income than before. More importantly, Yulin remains merely one small example of a much wider social practice throughout the province of Guanxi.
Dog meat is eaten throughout the year, not only during the Festival, just as Westerners will eat turkey year round but consume more on Christmas day. “It is a local custom in peoples’ daily lives rather than a festival once a year. That is why Chinese authorities consistently claim that they cannot issue a ban on hosting the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, as there is no dog meat festival to begin with in their opinion,” explains Pei Su, who has worked in animal welfare and humane education for more than 25 years.
While the new prohibition is a positive initiative taken by the Chinese municipal government, ACTAsia firmly believes that without education to lay the foundations for more compassionate living, there can be little or no sustainable social change when it comes to saving animals’ lives. Regardless of the restriction instituted by local authorities during the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, if people less than thirty minutes from the area continue to eat dog meat on a daily basis, then we need to work hard to educate and change peoples’ mindset towards dogs to regard them as living, sentient beings rather than simply as objects.
“What we have to do is change behavior,” said Pei Su. “It’s is not a quick fix and it certainly is not easy, but education is the only way to influence how people think about animals. While animals are thought of as ‘moving objects,’ little change will come from within China.”
ACTAsia strives to work within China to ensure that people understand animal sentience – that animals are living and feeling beings – and to change their thinking and behaviour so they no longer consider it acceptable to eat dogs. Only then will sustainable change come from within China itself.
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