Despite animal rights activists protesting in China, the southern city of Yulin proceeded with its annual dog meat festival.
About 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual event. Yulin residents eat dog meat and lychees to mark the summer solstice each year. Thousands of tourists flock to the area.
Sales of dog meat in the region of Guangxi have fallen this year. Dog vendors made about a third of what they took in one year ago, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
The local government usually holds an official holiday for the event but not this year. The Yulin government, which previously promoted the event, announced it would not be participating this summer.
Some restaurants removed the word “dog” from their signs and 17 officially stopped selling dog meat, according to the New York Times. Some residents held dog-eating banquets early to avoid the attention of activists.
China has no animal cruelty laws. While the consumption of cats and dogs is legal, it is poorly regulated.
"Some crazy unidentified people broke down the door of our slaughterhouses and stalls and stole our dogs. They are actually the robbers and are breaking the law," the owner of one of Yulin's most popular restaurants told the South China Morning Post.
Activists were emboldened after a dog trader made threats to strangle a dog if he did not get the price he wanted.
“The threat of the dog trader — ‘If you don’t buy this dog, I’m going to strangle him’ — that galvanized support of activists, but that’s just one factor,” said policy advisor Peter Li, a Chinese policy advisor for Humane Society International. “The major factor is that more and more people in China believe dogs should not be food.”
The solstice fell on Saturday June 21. The dog meat festival was trending almost as widely as the World Cup on China’s popular microblog Sina Weibo last weekend.