Wednesday, 25 March 2015

If you close your eyes to suffering - are you part of the problem?

How this blog is evolving is very different to my initial vision back in January when it started. I wanted to create a place for celebration of Companion Animals and the joy they bring to our lives. 

But the more I write, the more I find that my involvement with companion animals goes a lot deeper – and whilst this blog will still be about the joy they bring, I suppose it has to be balanced with other real world issues regarding these animals that we hold so dear.

Please, please sign Animal Asia's petition

To get some clarification regarding my stance on animal welfare vs. animal rights, please do read this article – I know it’s important for some to have an understanding of this before giving any credence to the following article.


Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

“Fancy some Golden Retriever for dinner, dear?”

Some things are so taboo that it’s hard for many of us to get out our head around. In this case, it’s the act of eating dogs and cats.

I am a vegetarian, but I ate meat for 40 years, and I enjoyed doing so too. In fairness, I can no more condemn the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese people for eating dog, than I can my partner and friends for eating chicken, pork, beef and lamb.

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival - China

This Festival is held every year during the Summer Solstice. 

Up to 10,000 dogs and 4,000 cats are eaten during the festivities.

As there are no animal welfare laws in China (apart from some safeguarding for some wildlife) there is absolutely no regard to where these dogs (and cats) come from, how they get there, or how they are killed.

Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

This festival isn’t an ancient event celebrated throughout centuries. The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an event that was created in very recent years to help tourism in the area, and its economic development.

Let’s get some perspective

To the Chinese, mostly those of the older generations – dogs weren’t pets. They were there to serve a purpose. To guard; and then, when needed, to eat.

But, as the country evolves and continues its modernisation, so do the people. In fact there’s an estimated 30 million dogs kept as pets in China now.

Our Western culture of course sees eating dog as horrific – how can anyone eat Man’s Best Friend?

It’s very easy for us to judge a whole nation as heartless and barbaric based on the activities of just a section of its society – and if I’m honest, those were my very thoughts before I learned more.

The more I read, the more horrified I was about the whole ‘tradition’. The more sickened I was about how these dogs are captured, transported and killed – and I learned about the many, many people doing all they can to stop it from happening.

Most of them Chinese.



Proponents argue that it is their right to eat dog meat (as others eat pork, beef and chicken, etc.) and, whilst it’s an alien concept to me, something so terrible I can hardly get my head around it – I can accept that argument. If at least there was no cruelty involved.

Thing is, the cruelty involved is in fact beyond many people’s comprehension. The sheer terror and torture these dogs and cats have to endure is indescribable.

And I can’t accept that.

Those who take part in the dog eating activities argue that the dogs (and cats) consumed are farmed on local land; much like we would farm cattle and sheep.

This isn’t true. Several sources claim that there are no dog farms in the local area at all.

“Culture is not an excuse for cruelty”

In order to fulfil the extreme numbers of dogs eaten, many are taken from the streets as strays. Often people’s pets are stolen. Sometimes the dogs are darted with poison, picked up and stuffed into cages too small to hold them. Many are driven for many hours, sometimes days from other provinces, in these cages. No water, and no food. Some suffocate. Some have their bones broken. Some don’t make the journey alive…

…and those are the lucky ones.


Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

“Cruelty in China has reached unprecedented levels.”

When the dogs arrive at their destination – they are battered with sticks, skinned alive, boiled alive and made a spectacle of, before they are eaten. Why such cruelty? Because it is said that this kind of treatment makes for a better eating experience and is good for health.

No, you didn’t read that wrong.

The Yulin Government denies sanction of the festival. They say, as there are no laws to stop it happening, their hands are tied. They have however advised those who butcher the dogs not to do it in public, although this was only bought into force in 2013 after substantial pressure from animal welfarists.

So the dogs are tortured and killed behind closed doors in unlicensed and unregulated slaughterhouses.

Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

I try to put myself in their shoes – the ones who want to keep the right to eat dog (and cat) meat.

Human Rights Vs. Animal Rights

China is a country where the government “justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve “social stability”. 

Did you know that results of a  recent survey showed only one in ten young people in China, when shown the ‘Man and the Tank image’ of the Tiananmen Square massacre recognised it? That’s not because of ignorance, it’s because of censorship. As far as the Chinese government is concerned, it didn’t happen.

So, the vast majority of a third of the current Chinese population who were born after 1989 have no idea about it, and older generations don’t speak about it either- seriously, no one wants to get locked up or worse for speaking about the past do they?

The internet is censored. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube is banned. They have their own social network, Weibo (please do read this article that explains about censorship on Weibo), where they can have opinions – but if the government doesn’t like those opinions, they’ll be deleted and the instigator can be jailed.

Imagine that for a moment.

Oppression creates indifference

As a result we might think many Chinese are apathetic to human/animal pain and suffering. When you are not permitted to shout about your own rights, how on earth can you shout for those of the animals?

But they do.


Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

Many Chinese people are dedicated to the cause. Brave people putting themselves at risk to save these animals. The younger generations are also emerging. Many now have their own pets and are beginning to appreciate the very special relationship between man and dog and cat.

So, it’s important to make clear that The Yulin Festival and its horrors is not representative of the Chinese people as a whole. But, the consumption of dog meat is a large part of the local economy. And the Yulin locals are hell-bent on keeping their “tradition” alive.

There are even cases of dog traders abusing the animals in front of activists to extract more money from them. The activists don’t want to see the suffering, and of course buy the dogs off the traders for extortionate prices. It’s all a big money-spinning game to the traders, and heartache for the activists.

But the activists are gaining ground. They are impacting the dog meat market, and some traders last year reported that their sales were down.

Apart from the very obvious issues of extreme cruelty – because these dogs are strays, or stolen – none of them have been tested as ‘fit for human consumption.’ The instances of humans catching diseases such as rabies is a very real concern, in fact China has the 2nd highest rate of rabies infections in humans. Let’s not forget the poisons administered too during the catching of the dogs – all of that goes into the meat, and then into consumer.

Dogs destined for the Yulin market are supposed to have the necessary quarantine paperwork – but checks are only made at the main routes into the area - so traders are free to come and go as they please through the minor roads. Paperwork is very rarely checked stringently anyway; it’s all a bit of a farce.

The very real point of this though is that if all the dogs entering Yulin did have the necessary paperwork, they’d be very few getting through. The cost of the checks needed to receive the paperwork is around £35 per dog, more than the majority of traders can afford. If these regulations were more stringently enforced, less dogs would make it through and therefore, less cruelty endured.

There are two clear sides to the debate – those in China who want to see animal welfare legislation and those who don’t think it right that China take on, what is ostensibly a Western form of thought ‘that animals are sentient beings, can feel emotion and feel pain.’

A ridiculous, preposterous stance – but a stance it is.

Image © Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival

Some feel that even with such legislation, it would be impossible to enforce given the widespread animal cruelty that happens in China.

But, everything begins with little steps doesn’t it?

Look at what Animals Asia reported today in fact. There's a rather big step already.

It's going to take a long time to stop the consumption of dog and cat meat in China - but it can be done.

Please, please help the campaign to stop the Yulin Dog and Cat Festival. You can support it via their Twitter page by using the hashtag #StopYulin2015, and find out more through their Facebook page

Help give the animals, and their humans in China a voice.



“A journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step.” ~ Laozi – Chinese Philosopher

Please, please sign Animal Asia's petition

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15 comments:

  1. Thank you for this blog. Yes, I kind of knew of what was happening to animals throughout the world - the good and the bad. And, yes, I judged saying "how could people do this?" I didn't realise that the Chinese government literally obliterated any 'failures' of their history from their history books. That the ordinary Chinese person was not allowed to argue, demonstrate and disagree with their Government in a democratic way. We must somehow communicate to the Chinese government that we, in the Western world, do not and will not trade with them until their human and animal rights have been brought right up to date. The horror in the eyes of the animals should not be present. NO PERSON OR ANIMAL SHOULD BE THIS TERRIFIED - EVER! Well done Cora! I applaud you for this blog written in the totally unbiased and educative way - it certainly has opened my eyes.

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  2. Whew...that was a hard read to get through...
    Good job, great post. It's absolutely sickening what is going on and how these animals are treated. I could never imagine eating my best friend but at least if the suffering could stop. :-(
    Very tragic indeed.

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  3. I read this article. I think You put a lot of effort to create this article. I appreciate your work.
    mad til hunde

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  4. I'm so glad you have made it a point to highlight what especially sets the dog/cat meat trade apart from many other animal cruelty issues: the insane torture involved, the live skinning/cooking... it is an unimaginable Hell. Too many people like to say "it's no different than eating cows, pigs, etc" but it *is* when you take into account the fact that the dogs/cats are so insanely tortured, that many of them were pets who were stolen, and another thing is they have evolved alongside human civilization over many centuries as companion animals, from the moment the wolves were adopted as able hunting companions, and cats lived alongside humans as pest control especially on farms. They have evolved over the generations to be better suited companion animals, which makes them in many ways more dependent on us as they often are easier to form bonds and connections with. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to imply that other animals are less deserving, I am just saying that, for dogs/cats to be so horrifically tortured after being captured, and killed, is such a hurtful betrayal.

    I am a dedicated vegan, so I want all animals to be free from all human cruelty... but when I look at what happens to animals in the dog/cat meat torture trade... it is such an utter living Hell compared to most, if not all, other animal cruelties in the world... The dog/cat meat torture trade NEEDS to be STOPPED as soon as possible.

    Thank you for this very good blog post

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  5. Cora, Thank you for bringing attention to this. I'm trying to do o as well.
    I have an important thought, though, and I made the argument more extensively in a Facebook post, but I don't think we need to apologize for taking the stance that dogs and cats are different from cows, pigs, chickens, et al. It's not about the animals' intelligence or empathy- if that's the case,we all must go veggie. No, I think humans have an unspoken social contract with these two species. I think thousands of years historic friendship; they serve to keep watch, help hunt, and eliminate vermin and we provided safety and food. We bred their natural fear of us out of them so they would live among us as companions. I think this is not unique to western culture and I think the sheer variety of breeds of Asian dogs and cats is proof. SOMEONE created Shih Tsus and Pekingnese and Akita and Chow and Siamese and Himalyans.
    I don't think they did all that overbreeding for size, shape, fur, and colors for food! (Look at cows, pigs, chickens- all look pretty much alike.) No, these two species are SPECIAL and I think it's perfectly fine to say that out loud and I don't think it's hypocritical at all. I don't think we need to be cultural apologists.
    I also don't think we should give an inch. I don't think we should settle for anything else than complete abolition of this sadistic practice. The Chinese used to bind women's feet. Eventually the women got pissed and forced the end of that, and it didn't lead to the end of Chinese culture. We can end this insanity as well.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. People in general need to understand that meat in general especially from an animal that had suffered tremendously are poisoned, toxic meat- laden with fear hormones released by the suffering animal, chemicals are released from the shear terror and fear of the animal. When the meat is consumed by the person, the toxins and chemicals and are still in the meat, the result is the person will likely to become easily violent, easily agitated and angry, have you ever really met a vegan or vegetarian person with violent tendencies? Meat takes longer to digest too, it sits in the guts for days releasing more toxic residues, fermenting and rotting away in our stomach. Why some people feel gassy, or have stomach burns. Even known to cause Cancer. We can get all we need from nuts, herbs, plants, roots, vegetables, legumes, grains etc unfortunately human has a thirst and an addiction to eat flesh of animals then wonder why they get sick or diseased.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Judy Darlington20 June 2016 at 08:42

    it is just so distressing and horrific and nerds to be stopped. I admire all the people who are fighting this barbaric trade and hope they continue to until it is illegal and stopped. I will do all I can to publicise this and hopefully more people will sign peyitions and speak out
    Shame on you China - where are your animal rights laws and your compassion. Thank you to all the chinese who are standing against this and tjose in adia who stand against the dog and cat leather trade.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Judy Darlington20 June 2016 at 08:43

    it is just so distressing and horrific and nerds to be stopped. I admire all the people who are fighting this barbaric trade and hope they continue to until it is illegal and stopped. I will do all I can to publicise this and hopefully more people will sign peyitions and speak out
    Shame on you China - where are your animal rights laws and your compassion. Thank you to all the chinese who are standing against this and tjose in adia who stand against the dog and cat leather trade.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Judy Darlington20 June 2016 at 08:43

    it is just so distressing and horrific and needs to be stopped. I admire all the people who are fighting this barbaric trade and hope they continue to until it is illegal and stopped. I will do all I can to publicise this and hopefully more people will sign peyitions and speak out
    Shame on you China - where are your animal rights laws and your compassion. Thank you to all the chinese who are standing against this and tjose in adia who stand against the dog and cat leather trade.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Judy Darlington20 June 2016 at 08:48

    it is just so distressing and horrific and needs to be stopped. I admire all the people who are fighting this barbaric trade and hope they continue to until it is illegal and stopped. I will do all I can to publicise this and hopefully more people will sign petitions and speak out
    Shame on you China - where are your animal rights laws and your compassion. Thank you to all the chinese who are standing against this and those in asia who stand against the dog and cat leather trade.

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  14. The sheer terror and torture these dogs and cats have to endure is indescribable.
    they are battered with sticks, skinned alive, boiled alive and made a spectacle of, before they are eaten. Why such cruelty? Because it is said that this kind of treatment makes for a better eating experience and is good for health.Chinese population who were born after 1989 have no idea about it, and older generations don’t speak about it either- seriously, no one wants to get locked up or worse for speaking about the past do they?Actually, we need to be careful about our dogs, otherwise we do not want to take care of animals,I agree with your post. so be careful about each of our animals....
    http://onedaytop.com/world-rabies-day-september-28th-vaccinate-pets/

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