YULIN, China (Reuters) – Residents of China’s southern city of Yulin defended eating dog meat to celebrate the summer solstice on Thursday, as animal rights activists seek new ways to pressure organizers to cancel the annual festival.
The ten-day event, dubbed the lychee and dog meat festival by residents, has become a lightning rod for dog lovers, who every year confront those who buy, sell and eat canines.
In recent years, animal rights activists have raided slaughterhouses and intercepted truckloads of dogs in efforts to limit the number of animals killed.
Activists say the dog meat trade is inhumane and unhygienic, pointing to videos of dogs caught with wire lassos, transported in tiny cages and slaughtered with metal rods.
Festival-goers remain defiant.
“Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. Popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong,” Yulin resident Wang Yue told Reuters.
“Those scenes of bloody dog slaughter that you see online, I want to say that the killing of any animal will be bloody. I hope people can look at this objectively.”
Dog meat is a traditional food in some areas of southern China, where it is believed to be good for the body in warm weather.
However, animal protection group Humane Society International said in a statement the festival was “manufactured” by the dog meat traders and that dog meat was not part of mainstream food culture in China.