China’s annual dog-meat festival has opened once again but activists are hoping it will be for the last time.
The annual 10-day festival in the southwestern city of Yulin usually attracts thousands of visitors, many of whom buy dogs that are on display in cramped cages.
However, campaigners are hopeful its days are numbered and said attendance has dwindled this year.
The government is drawing up new laws to prohibit the wildlife trade and protect pets, and campaigners are hoping that this year will be the last time the festival is held.
China policy specialist with the Humane Society International, Peter Li, says he’s hopeful Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people.
“Allowing mass gatherings to trade in and consume dog meat in crowded markets and restaurants in the name of a festival poses a significant public health risk,” Peter Li said.
In April, Shenzhen became the first city in China to ban the consumption of dogs.
Over 10,000 dogs have been killed for meat in previous years.
Most of the dogs killed for the meat trade in China are stolen pets, stolen guard dogs, as well as street dogs grabbed from towns and cities.
The 10-day festival has been running since 2009 and celebrates the summer solstice.