As I found myself typing the words into Google, I knew I shouldn’t be doing it. My whole body was screaming no – but I couldn’t help myself – I had to. I’d first read about it last year. I’d seen the images, signed the petition and shared it across social media. But if I was going to write about it, I felt like I needed to know more.
Photo credit: Google Images
I hesitated before allowing my finger to click on the link and as soon as I did, a video popped up. Made by an animal rights activist it portrayed the horror that I can’t erase from my mind. Terrified dogs running through the streets – some already injured – trying to escape the inevitable brutality that was to come. Once caught they were thrown into cages on top of each other, faces pressed against the side of the cage, penned in so tightly they were unable to move. Petrified with pure terror in their eyes – they had nowhere to go. The video skipped to a man grabbing a dog by its neck and hurtling it into a tub of boiling water – alive. The dog jumped up yelping with pain and it’s at this point I turned it off. I’d seen enough and couldn’t take anymore. My whole body was pulsating with emotion. Fear, sorrow, anger and more than anything else – helplessness. My instant reaction was that I wanted to do the same to the man who threw the dog into the boiling water – payback for every helpless dog he’d brutally murdered. I wanted him to feel the pain. I wanted him to feel what it felt like to be boiled alive and to be honest – I still do. A couple of weeks after seeing the video, I still have the vision of that dog and the sound of its yelp on repeat in my head.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival started in 2009 and is a tradition that has caused uproar around the world. But I’m struggling to see how it can be called a tradition. A tradition is something that has been happening for hundreds of years: something that has been passed down the line from generation to generation. This tradition has no meaning, as it only started 8 years ago. In an age where more and more people are turning vegan, companies are researching ways to test their products without the use of animals and people are jailed for animal cruelty – I’m unable to comprehend such a barbaric act. We no longer live in caves, have to hunt for food or fight animals to survive, yet parts of China host a yearly festival where dogs are massacred and people stand around cheering. And while man’s best friend may be the main attraction, cats are on the menu too. Not in as high a quantity as dogs, but they are in no way spared this yearly horror.
The Chinese government say they are not directly involved with it and do not endorse the festival in any way, yet they are doing nothing to ban it. In which case, surely, they are supporting it? They’re effectively saying it’s okay for people to carry on and continue with this yearly slaughter. They defend their position further by stating it’s a local custom and only celebrated by a small amount of Yulin residents.
Apparently started as a way for dog meat traders to draw more attention to their business and bring in more customers, traders say they only use stray dogs. Yet every year household pets go missing, and some of the dogs unlucky enough to be captured can be clearly seen wearing collars. But regardless of where the dogs come from – homeless or not – it doesn’t matter. They are beautiful, intelligent, affectionate creatures who feel pain, and have emotions. Yet year upon year thousands of animals are beaten, hung and boiled alive. Some are even bound up for fun, then attached to the back of a moving vehicle and dragged along – all in the name of tradition. If any of them survive this horror, they are then skinned alive. All of this is done in front of the other dogs, causing more stress and panic as they realise their fate. And all this will be happening again in June 2017.
I realise this isn’t the usual content I cover on my blog, and I’ve questioned myself repeatedly as to whether or not I should post it – but the pull was too much and I felt I didn’t have a choice. I don’t have thousands of followers across social media, and sometimes I refrain from posting something for fear of alienating what followers I do have. I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks like this. But to be honest, it can be pretty exhausting trying to second guess everything I write and how it might be accepted. But here’s the thing. If someone stops following me because I decided to write this post, then they’re not my target audience. As an animal lover who’s easily overwhelmed by the cruelty that exists in the world, I struggle to see why animals should needlessly suffer at the hands of humans.
I’ve never had a dog; I grew up in a house where we had cats. But the people I know who do have dogs, it’s easy to see what joy they bring. They’re loyal and affectionate, they offer companionship and a sense of security. And as for my cat, she relies on me to feed her, look after her and notice when she’s not well. She sits on my desk while I’m working, constantly wants cuddles and fussing, and curls up with me at night. Yet, on the other side of the world, these intelligent creatures are tortured while people stand round cheering and celebrating this senseless act of brutality.
As a lone woman, I realise I don’t have the power to stop this. And I realise that one blog post isn’t going to change the world. But animals don’t have a voice. They rely on the kindness of humans to speak for them, to stand up for what’s right and to try and protect them as best we can. Over on www.change.org there are currently 75 petitions which are all raising awareness and trying to bring an end to this inhumane act. As an animal lover, and as a caring human being, I am asking you with all my heart to sign one of these petitions. To spread the word and draw attention to what is about to happen again in a matter of weeks. If you have any scrap of humanity in you, you will sign, Tweet, email and share these petitions with everyone you know. Although we can’t stop it single-handedly, we can join the millions of other people who feel just as strongly about this festival and give these animals a voice.
I can’t do anything about erasing the images from the video I saw, but I can use my voice to draw attention to what is going on in the world.
To see it for yourself, and find out more information, head over to your favourite search engine and type in ‘Yulin Dog Meat Festival’. You’ll be horrified at what comes up, so please be prepared for some disturbing images.
Thank you for reading.