It sounds like a farce to most people in the western world, but the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China is real. It started in 2010 in honor of the summer solstice, with restaurant owners claiming it was tradition to eat dog meat in summertime.

Here’s a fact — gruesome as it might be for some people to read: An estimated 10-20 million dogs are slaughtered for their meat in China every year, The Independent reported in April 2016. Some of the animals killed are pets and still have their collars around their necks when they die.

Still, the “tradition” continues. “Yulin No.1 Crispy Dog Meat Restaurant” claims to have the most tasty dog meat dishes.

READ: Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2016: China Summer Solstice Event Is Still Happening Despite Fierce Global Outcry

“It's definitely selling dog meat and it has no signs of closing,” Dr. Peter J. Li, the Associate Professor of East Asian Politics at the University of Houston-Downtown and the China Policy Specialist from Humane Society International, told the U.K.’s Daily Mail Thursday.

“Crispy dog meat was a dish promoted in 2009 to be the main dish at the local food festival, which later turned into the Yulin Dog Meat Festival,” he said. “Slaughterhouse workers use a blow torch to shine the skin of the dog to make it crunchy and bright.”

But is it legal? The Chinese city reportedly passed a ban against selling dog meat between June 15 and 23 in May, though city officials didn’t confirm it. Still, advocacy groups were hopeful the selling of dog meat would come to an end.

“I’m optimistic,” Peter J. Li, a China policy adviser to Humane Society International, told the New York Times in May. “Of course we understand that no law can completely deter the sale of dog meat in Yulin. But this ban suggests that the government is becoming more serious about taking action in a determined way.”

But not everyone was convinced the supposed ban would work. “I don’t think they will publicly acknowledge it,” Andrea Gung, the founder of the Duo Duo Project, told the Times about the law being enforced by officials. “But my source spoke with every single one of the dog meat vendors at Dongkou” — Yulin’s main market for the meat — “and they all said the same thing: a seven-day ban on dog meat sales starting on June 15.”

READ: Yulin Dog Meat Festival: Vendors Cover Signs Amid Opposition From Chinese Animal Rights Activists

Yulin officials denied the ban. “There is no ban on dog meat sales during the festival as some animal rights groups have claimed,” government officials said in a press release.

“There is no current or proposed ban on dog meat sales during the festival,” Marc Ching of The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation said. “Restaurants have already begun putting in order, and trucks will start their travel to the province,” a vendor reportedly told Ching.

Ching, however, is not a proponent of the festival. “I feel so sad for the dogs that will die and suffer because of these mistruths. Usually there is a huge international pressure before the coming days of the festival, but this year there is not. The only way we will see Yulin end, is by people continuing to stand up to speak for the animals” he said.

Dog Meat Yulin The Chinese city of Yulin still sells dog meat for their summer solstice festival. Photo: Getty Images

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