Dog-Eating Festival in China Ends After 600 Years

Tradition or Tragedy?

  @https://twitter.com/dantovrov on September 22 2011 10:34 AM
Woman cooks dog meat
A woman cooks dog meat at a restaurant in Seoul July 14, 2011. While animal rights activists have condemned dog meat as a cruel treatment of the animals, it's still an accepted popular delicacy for some South Korean, as well in some other Asian countries. July 14 is the day South Koreans have foods like chicken soup and dog meat, raised for food but not for pet, as they believe the foods would help them survive hot weather in the summer time. REUTERS

China banned an annual dog-eating festival after a large public outcry over the way the animals were killed. The event in Qianxi Township outside Jinhua City in Zhejiang Province has been going on for 600 years, but both local and international outrage has stopped the event.

The festival has garnered negative publicity in recent years as vendors began displaying live dogs to customers. The dogs would be killed in front of buyes to prove that the meat was fresh and safe, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese took to Weibo, a social media network, to show their distaste with the festival, and in an online poll, users voted with a 90 percent majority to end the practice.

The government's quick response should be encouraged. I hope eating dogs will not be a custom there anymore. It's not a carnival, but a massacre, wrote activist Junchangzai on Weibo.

Despite the fact that even many Qianxi residents were happy with the ban, others were saddened by the loss.

It's our tradition, which the government has no right to ban, a villager told The Qianjiang Evening News. The dog-eating carnival is like the Spring Festival to me.

The tradition started after a 14th century battle, when an army invading Qianxi secretly killed dogs so that the animals' barks wouldn't give away its position. When the city was sacked, the army held a celebratory feast and served the meat from the slaughtered dogs.

Each year after, citizens commemorated the conquering Ming Dynasty emperor Zhu Yuanzhanga by snacking on dog.

Dog meat has been a staple in China since at least 500 B.C., and it's still socially acceptable and was even eaten by Chinese astronauts in space. Recent criticism has primarily focused on the treatment of the dogs, many of which are bred solely to be consumed.

Dogs and cats in small cages aren't an uncommon sight at a local meat market, and an estimated 10 million dogs are killed each year. While the practice is still a vibrant tradition, the government has been cracking down on cruelty, and issuing harsh fines of up to 500,000 yuan ($73,500) for the sale of meat.

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