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China May Ban Sale of Canine Meat Ahead of Dog-Eating Festival

Animal lovers can rejoice - for now - as authorities in the Chinese city of Yulin have issued a short-term ban on the sale of dog meat ahead of the city's infamous dog-eating festival, activists report.

Several animal rights organizations recently reported that the Yulin government has temporarily prohibited butchers from selling dog meat before the annual dog-eating festival is scheduled to begin, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

During the one-week ban, which will also cover the festival’s opening day, offenders risk facing a fine of up to US$14,500, and even imprisonment.

Yulin's dog meat festival – in which thousands of canines are crammed into cages, slaughtered and eaten each year – has sparked outrage and protests from animal activists in the past. Last year, a petition gathered more than 11 million signatures in the hope of putting an end to the grisly festival. The effort failed though, as the Chinese government denied any responsibility for the event.

Now, activists are seeing the recent policy change as a positive move. “Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” Andrea Gung, executive director of the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project, said in a joint statement with the Humane Society International.

However, there is some doubt whether the ban will actually be implemented. The Times reportedly reached out to the Yulin government to verify the news, but was told over the phone that the festival did not even exist. The BBC, on the other hand, reports that several vendors and restaurant owners have not been informed of the decision. "Banning the sales of dog meat? I've not heard of it,” a restaurant owner told the news source. “Whoever wants to eat will continue to eat. Why is dog meat any different from other meat anyway?"

If the ban is real, though, it will be "a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade,” says Peter Li, a China specialist at the Humane Society International, according to the joint statement.

[Photo via People]

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