Centuries old Chinese dog-eating festival cancelled

Following a concerted campaign by advocates of animal rights, a dog eating festival that has been a tradition in eastern China for 600 years has bitten the dust.

The Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival usually sees around 500 dogs killed, skinned and cooked on the spot over a three day period for the delectation of festivalgoers.

However, Chinese authorities pulled the plug on it following a series of stomach-churning pictures and the resulting outcry of the event posted on the internet.

China is experiencing a sea change in its attitudes towards dogs. With a booming economy and an emergent middle class, dogs are now seen as status symbols, meaning that regarding them as a source of food is now frowned upon by many.

Deborah Cao, a professor studying the law surrounding animal rights at Australia’s Griffith University, said:

“I believe China is going through a Chinese animal liberation movement, a bottom-up movement, gaining huge momentum in the past year, very much with the help of the Internet, together with the younger generation growing up with cats and dogs as family pets.”

The festival used to see traders bringing pre-cooked dog flesh along to sell, but around ten years ago, live dogs were brought along to prove that the meat was fresh. In September, an unnamed blogger who had previously witnessed the festival first hand wrote:

“There are thousands of dog eaters gathering there. People slaughter dogs mercilessly, the blood of the dead dogs flows like a river, the horrible screams of dogs pierce the sky.”

The grass roots campaign started gathering momentum earlier in 2011. In one incident, a truck was seen in northern China transporting 500 dogs to restaurants. A call was put out on the web to stop the truck, and more than 200 people turned out to barricade it. What’s more, they all contributed to a $17,000 fund to buy the dogs and rescue them from certain death.

Dog flesh is traditionally popular in China during the winter, as it is thought to be especially ‘warming’.