People in Yulin, China do not regularly consume dog meat - despite the best efforts of traders to promote it, according to a new survey.
The polling, which was conducted by Chinese state-registered charities and assisted by a team of six research staff from the Yulin Municipal Government, has been welcomed by China policy expert Dr Peter Li from Humane Society International, global partner group of Capital Animal Welfare Association [CAWA] and Vshine Animal Protection Association [Vshine].
Conducted in May this year, the survey shows that the majority of Yulin residents, 72 per cent, do not regularly eat dog meat, indicating that dog meat eating is not part of the culinary mainstream in Yulin. Only 28 percent eat it on a regular basis, with a mere 12 percent eating it weekly.
The full breakdown shows that around 12 per cent of respondents never eat dog meat, with more than 24 per cent rarely eating it. Just under 35 per cent eat it five or six times a year, and more than 16 per cent consume it three or four times a month. Just 11.81 per cent eat it once a week.
Thousands of dogs and cats are slaughtered for human consumption at the Yulin event, part of an annual trade across China that sees more than 10 million dogs and four million cats annually killed for eating, many of them stolen pets and strays.
Yulin dog traders have attempted to promote the festival as a cultural and historical event, when in truth it was launched as recently as 2010 with very little dog meat eating in the city prior to that.
In partnership with CAWA and Vshine, Welfare organisation Humane Society International, which has long campaigned across Asia for an end to the dog meat trade, has welcomed the survey.
Qin Xiaona, director of CAWA, said: “The survey results are encouraging. The survey tells the world that Yulin’s food culture is not defined by the local dog meat traders. Their cultural claim is not supported by the survey. Those of us who lived in Guangxi in the past know that dog meat consumption was a distasteful habit.
"You just did not cook dog meat in your own kitchen. The survey results should encourage the Yulin authorities to correct the misperception perpetrated by the dog meat industry by fostering a new and healthy food culture in line with the rapid progress in the rest of the country. ”
HSI, CAWA and Vshine believe the survey dispels the myth that dog meat eating is vital to the Yulin economy and hope it emboldens authorities there to close down the festival for good.
Last month it was revealed that a temporary ban on dog meat sales will be introduced this year from June 15, with heavy penalties for violations. Although Chinese officials have yet to formally confirm the ban, it has been independently verified by multiple organisations on the ground including the Duo Duo Project, Animals Asia Foundation, The Ta Foundation, ACTAsia and HSI.
Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI, said: “Despite the effort by dog traders to heavily promote the eating of dog for the last seven years, it’s clear that the majority of Yulin residents still don’t eat it on anything like a regular basis.
"The truth is that eating dog and cat is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice even in Yulin, the home of the dog meat festival. We’ve already seen the Yulin authorities take steps to curb the sale of dog meat, so we hope that these survey results will encourage them to go even further.
"Far from being vital to the Yulin economy or way of life, the dog meat festival is a national disgrace that tarnishes the name of the city around the world. Now is the time to end it.”
HSI is calling on Yulin official Mr. Mo Gong Ming to end the Yulin festival for good. You can sign the letter here.
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