A leading Chinese animal advocate claims any reports of a restriction on dog meat sales at the Yulin Festival are false.
This follows various reports from Yulin, including that the festival itself had been banned to that vendors had reached a compromise with city officials to sell only two carcasses per stand.
However, according to Marc Ching, Founder of charity Animal Hope And Wellness, there is no ban.
He says: "This is a direct statement made to Animal Hope and Wellness by Yulin authorities - 'There is no ban on dog meat sales during the festival as some animal rights groups have claimed'."
Posting on Facebook, while filming at Yulin several days ago, he said: "Today was supposed to be the start of the alleged ban on dog meat that many animal rights groups claimed would happen. As we mentioned based on the information we received and our sit down meetings with the Yulin government - THERE IS NO BAN.
"All the information posted in regards to a ban at this year's dog meat festival is false.
"We are live in Yulin China, at one of the largest dog meat markets in the city. There are live dogs being killed. And dog meat being butchered and sold publicly. This now, and Yulin 2017 is happening."
According to the BBC some vendors told its reporters that they had heard nothing about a ban. The news outlet reported a local restaurant owner saying: "Banning the sales of dog meat? I've not heard of it.
"Whoever wants to eat will continue to eat. Why is dog meat any different from other meat anyway?"
Jason Baker, Vice President of International Campaigns at PETA, also cast doubt on news of an outright ban. He said: “We have spoken with several people working within the mayor’s office, the food and drug administration and the municipal building and no one seems aware of a Yulin festival ban
"Perhaps someone knows something that we don’t, but [we] suspect this is simply another rumor similar to last year, in which several media reports announced the festival was cancelled."
Charities Humane Society International [HSI] and Duo Duo both reported that while the festival had not been cancelled - and there was no outright ban on selling dog meat - last minute protests by vendors meant a two carcass ban was in place, which HSI claims is being enforced by law enforcement.
Dr Peter Li, HSI's China policy specialist, said: "It is encouraging to see the Yulin authorities enforcing the compromise ban that they themselves struck with Yulin officials. It shows that while the restricted sales order is by no means perfect, it is absolutely having an impact."
But Ching feels these reports have had a negative impact.
He said: "Because of the fabrication and false news spread by media and certain animal rights groups, this is the first year that the people have become silent. It is the pressure by the people that brings about change.
“The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is still happening, whether or not you choose to believe it.”
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