Chinese officials are set to ban the notorious Yulin Festival in China, activists have claimed.
In a May 17 press release, Humane Society International and the advocacy group Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project reported that the city is poised "to prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event."
The ban is believed to come into effect on June 15, a week before the Yulin Festival. Traders who break the law will be imposed fines of up to 100,000 yuan ($14,500).
Thousands of animals are slaughtered every year at the event, which started in 2010. It has since sparked global controversy. Animal advocates condemned the event for slaughtering thousands of dogs and cats every year, many of them stolen pets or strays.
"The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet," said Peter Li, a China policy specialist at Humane Society International. "But if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade."
The ban however is not expected to prevent cats and other animals from being sold at the festival.
"Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade," said Andrea Gung, executive director of Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project.
At the height of the festival, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 dogs were killed. The numbers were reduced to 2,000 to 3,000 in recent years. Most of the dogs are stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouse, where they are typically beaten to death.
Most people in China don't eat dogs, and pet owners and dog thieves have had numerous violent clashes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned about the threats to health of eating dog meat.
While many dogs and cats will still be killed for the Yulin festival in advance of the ban, Li said the temporary ban is "a milestone victory and we commend the Yulin authorities for taking this action."
[With reports from National Geographic, Independent, and Daily Mail. Photo: ChinaTopix/AP]