A Chinese animal activist has been hospitalised after dog meat traders ganged up on her and beat her up when she tried to save hundreds of pooches bound for the barbaric Yulin festival, MailOnline can reveal.
Du Yufeng, the founder of Bo Ai Animal Protection Centre, said she was hit in the head and all over her body by weapon-wielding vendors who prevented her and other animal lovers from releasing the dogs from their warehouse.
The canines were said to be on their way to slaughterhouses catered to the Yulin annual dog meat festival, which started today.
MailOnline’s sources in Yulin claimed this year’s festival was more subdued than those of previous years, with many empty stalls seen at markets.
However, more food stalls than usual were said to be observed after nightfall.
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Du Yufeng, the founder of Bo Ai Animal Protection Centre, said she and other animal activists were trying to free about 300 dogs (pictured) in Sichuan when they were attacked by traders
The canines were said to be on their way to slaughterhouses catered to the Yulin annual dog meat festival, which started today. The animals were kept at a warehouse in the town of Lugu
Ms Du said she was assaulted late May while trying to rescue about 300 dogs – many of which were stolen pets – from a group of meat traders in the town of Lugu in south-west China’s Sichuan Province.
She and two other female activists were attacked by the traders after a two-day standoff.
Ms Du said one of her partners who is nearly 60 years old sustained two fractured ribs while she had been feeling dizzy and were still hospitalised nearly a month later.
Victim Ms Du (right) said one of her partners who is nearly 60 years old sustained two fractured ribs while she had been feeling dizzy and were still hospitalised nearly a month after
She also accused the officials of Xichuang city, which supervises Lugu, of colluding with meat traders by preventing animal activists from photographing and rescuing the dogs.
What is the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?
Some claim that the consumption of dog meat has been observed in Guangxi Province, China, for hundreds of years.
However, the activity was not promoted and encouraged until around 30 years ago – first by the dog meat traders, then by the Yulin government for driving tourism.
The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival can be traced back to 2009.
The event has drawn waves of criticism from media and animal lovers, with influential figures leading campaigns around the world in a bid to stop it.
The local government has stopped organising the festival under pressure, as it is understood, but vendors continue selling dog meat and residents carry on eating it on the summer solstice.
The animal welfare group failed to save the pooches which were secretly killed by the local animal quarantine authority on May 30 in a bid to eliminate evidence, Ms Du claimed.
It is said the mountainous province of Sichuan is now the most popular stopping point for meat traders to keep, sell and distribute illegally captured dogs, many of which would end up in Yulin in southern China’s Guangxi Province.
In an open letter to the Sichuan government, Ms Du confessed that she couldn’t sleep at night knowing truckload after truckload of dogs were being squeezed into tiny chicken cages and transported on highways.
‘They are about to reach the gate of hell and clubbed to death, scalded by boiling water, grilled alive and skinned alive. They are so terrified,’ she wrote.
She urged the Sichuan government to punish the dog meat traders.
Each year, thousands of dogs are cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches before being eaten by the Yulin locals during the festival held on the summer solstice.
A picture taken by MailOnline’s source in Yulin tonight shows locals eating on a food street
More food stalls than usual were observed in the city tonight after the festival kicked off
This year’s Yulin festival is said to be more subdued than those of previous years, but chunks of dog carcasses and cooked whole dogs can still be found at markets, according to sources
One resident of Yulin, who claims to be a dog lover, told MailOnline that he saw people dining outdoors – presumably eating dog meat dishes – on Meilin Avenue, one of the city’s food streets.
But the resident, known as Kenny, explained that eating dogs were a tradition among the older generations.
He said young people in Yulin refused to eat dogs and even started to keep pets.
Although the Yulin dog meat festival has left the world in shock, most people in China don’t actually eat dogs.
The animals are typically consumed by a minority of residents in northern China near the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia as well as in southern China near Vietnam.
People eat dog meat at a restaurant in Yulin on June 21, 2017. Each year, thousands of dogs are cruelly killed, skinned and cooked with blow-torches during the festival on summer solstice
The animals are typically consumed by a minority of Chinese residents in northern China near the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia as well as in southern China near Vietnam. This photo taken on June 20, 2018 shows a vendor pulling a trolley with dog meat at the Dongkou market
uppies are seen in a cage at a dog meat market in Yulin on June 21, 2017. Sources told MailOnline that many young people in Yulin refused to eat dogs and started to keep pets
The influence and size of the festival had been reduced in recent years thanks to the protest from the public, according to animal activists. A vendor is pictured chopping up dog meat for a customer at Yulin’s main dog meat trading venue, the Dongkou market, on June 20, 2018
Claire Bass, the Executive Director of animal charity Humane Society International (HSI), said: ‘The dog meat trade in China is first and foremost about crime and cruelty.
‘The Yulin festival is one small but distressing example of an unspeakably cruel trade run by dog thieves and sellers…
‘[Those thieves and sellers] routinely steal pets in broad daylight using poison darts and rope nooses, defy public health and safety laws, and cause horrendous suffering, all for a meat that most people in China don’t consume.’
The organisation’s Chinese partners saved 62 dogs earmarked to be butchered from a filthy slaughterhouse in Yulin days before the festival.
Chinese animal activists saved 62 dogs from a backstreet slaughterhouse in Yulin this month
The dogs were waiting to be butchered during the Yulin dog meat festival on summer solstice
British actress Dame Judi Dench and violinist Vanessa-Mae this week sent heart-felt messages of support for Chinese activists who passionately campaign to end the annual event through HSI.
‘I cannot imagine the suffering of those poor dogs, and I hope very much that one day soon this cruel trade will end,’ Dame Judi Dench said.
A 1.5 million-signature petition was delivered to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom yesterday by HSI and another animal welfare group Care2.
It is estimated that 10 million dogs are slaughtered for meat in China annually.
Last year, animal welfare organisation Humane Society International rescued 136 dogs from three underground abattoirs near Yulin ahead of the three-day feasts.
They said that workers at the grim slaughterhouses typically killed around 50 dogs every day for human consumption.
A dog earmarked to be butchered (circled) stays still and stares at the camera while being found at a slaughterhouse in China last year. The dog, named Lily, was saved and sent to the UK
Lily meets her new owner in London last November after escaping a cruel death in Yulin. Susie Warner (pictured with Lily, right) from Berkshire couldn’t wait to give the pet a home
A 1.5 million-signature petition to end the dog meat festival was delivered to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom yesterday by HSI and another animal welfare group Care2
But the organisation explained that the influence and size of the festival had been reduced in recent years thanks to the protest from the public.
While China has laws to safeguard land-based and aquatic wildlife, it currently lacks legislation to protect animal welfare or to prevent cruelty towards animals.
In September 2009, animal rights activists and legal experts began circulating a draft Law on the Protection of Animals.
And in 2010, a draft Law on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was submitted to the State Council for its consideration.
The draft proposes a fine of up to 6,000 yuan (£693) and two weeks’ detention for those found guilty of animal cruelty, according to China Daily. However till this day, no progress has been made.
Why do people eat dogs in China?
A vendor waits for buyers beside dogs in cages at a market in Yulin city, southern China. The city has an annual dog meat festival every year on the summer solstice
It’s not uncommon to see people eating dishes made with dog meat in southern China, especially in the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi.
The city of Yulin, in Guangxi Province, has an annual dog meat festival every year on the summer solstice.
According to Keith Guo, an animal lover working for PETA Asia and a native of Guangdong, dog stew is common in his home province as well as the neighbouring Guangxi.
Mr Guo, 27, who has a passion for food sociology, explained that meat from dogs smells and tastes gamier compared to other types of meat, so chefs would use spices such as chilli peppers and ginger to cover the odor.
As a result, dog stew is heavy and could warm up the diners’ body quickly.
‘For traditional Chinese medicine, any food that could warm up the body is considered beneficial,’ he told MailOnline. ‘That’s also why dog meat is thought to be especially nutritious to the human body.’
Mr Guo added that the weather could get humid in southern China during winter, and according to traditional Chinese medicine, humidity could weaken one’s health. That’s why locals like eating warm dog stew to boost their immune system.
Mr Guo said he lost five pet dogs to dog thieves when he was growing up in Guangdong.
He condemned the thieves’ behaviour.
‘For dog owners, the stolen dogs are their friends and family, and they shouldn’t be the food in someone else’s mouth.’