600-year-old dog eating festival in China gets banned
Dogs sold as meat is becoming less popular in China. Image: KaoG/Flickr/CC BY

A 600-year old festival in China celebrates a battle by eating dogs. About 1,500 of the animals are slaughtered  yearly for the event. A recent outcry in the social media has led to the discontinuation of the ancient event.

Festival commemorates battle

The festival, held annually in Qianxi, China, in the coastal Zhejiang province for the last 600 years, commemorates a battle fought in the town centuries ago during the Ming dynasty. An invading army killed all the dogs in the town before their attack to prevent townspeople from being alerted by the barking. After their victory, the invading army ate the slaughtered dogs in celebration.

Event banned

The event was banned this week after an outcry of protest on social media sites.

Until the 1980s, the dogs at the festival were slaughtered, skinned and butchered on site before they were cooked and served. The Chinese government stepped in during that decade and demanded that the actual killing be done off-site and away from the eyes of festival-goers. However, in the intervening years, the traditional practice has crept back into the festival.

Worries about tainted meat

“The ancient fair was replaced by a modern commodity fair in the 1980s, but dog eating has been kept as a tradition,” the official Xinhua news agency reports. “However, vendors began to butcher dogs in public a few years ago to show their dog meat is fresh and safe, as a way to ease buyers’ worry that the meat may be refrigerator-preserved or even contaminated.”

Pictures of the slaughter of dogs have been posted on  the internet, leading to an outcry from thousands of dog-lovers around the world.

Government reacts

The Chinese government has taken the protests to heart and banned the festival this year. During the country’s Cultural Revolution, the keeping of dogs for pets was banned, but since then, the number of Chinese dog owners has grown steadily.

Common practice under scrutiny

Eating dogs and cats is still fairly common and mostly socially acceptable in China. But in recent years, many have been calling for an end to the practice. Rumors that such a ban may be coming have been circulating in China since June.

Sources

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/china-dog-eating-festival_n_977655.html
Global Public Square: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/22/china-bans-ancient-dog-eating-festival-after-online-uproar/
Two Little Cavaliers: http://twolittlecavaliers.com/2011/09/chinas-dog-eating-festival-has-been-banned.html

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