Temporary ban on dog eating is a step in the right direction

ACTAsia is pleased to share with you that in the run up to the notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China – where thousands of dogs and cats suffer violent deaths – local authorities have put in place a ban on the sale of dog meat leading up to the Festival.

Local sources have informed ACTAsia that the municipal authorities have decided to prohibit the sale of dog meat in licensed restaurants, street vendors and market traders for one week in the run up to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

It is reported that the temporary ban will come into effect on the 15th June, a week prior to the 21st  June Festival, and that it will be strictly enforced with fines of up to 100,000 yuan (or 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 and give traders a better source of income than before. More importantly, Yulin is a small example of a much broader social practice in the Guanxi province. 

Dog meat is eaten throughout the year, not only during the Festival – much like Westerners who will eat turkey but consume more on Christmas day . “It is a local custom in people’s 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 this prohibition is a positive initiative taken by the Chinese municipal government, ACTAsia firmly believes that without education laying the foundations for more compassionate living, there can be little or no sustainable social change for saving animals’ lives. Regardless of the restriction from local authorities during the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, if people less than thirty minutes from the area are eating dog meat on a daily basis, we need to work hard to educate and change peoples’ mindset towards dogs as living, sentient beings rather than simply as objects.

“What we have to do is change behaviour,” 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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