China’s notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival opened today despite rumours that authorities would impose a ban this year.
Pictures taken today show butchers hacking slabs of canines and chefs cooking the flesh in a busy market as the locals celebrate the summer solstice with dog meat feasts.
Insiders said that the Yulin government issued a ban in May, prohibiting vendors from selling dog meat in the lead-up to the festival.
But the city’s officials later denied the rumours through media, insisting that eating canines were local custom.
After initial reports of the ban, animal rights groups said vendors and officials reached a compromise, setting a limit of two dogs displayed per stall.
But multiple carcasses rested on some stalls at the main Nanqiao market, with stiff pointy tails, leathery yellow skin, eyes shut and barred teeth as if in a final growl.
Behind two long rows of dog butchers, other vendors sold more typical fare like cow tongues and pork hocks and trotters. But even they sold some dog parts, including liver.
The market also features poultry, tanks of fish and vegetables and fruits, including big bundles of lychees.
Lychee, a seasonal fruit, is often eaten during the festival. That’s why the festival is also known as ‘Yulin Lychee Dog Meat Festival’.
However, there were said to be a heavy police presence outside the market and at all intersections.
Outside the market, vendors sold stewed dog meat out of enormous steaming works, shoveling big portions into plastic bags for passing customers.
Some changed their ‘dog meat’ signs to read ‘tasty meat’ instead. One restaurant put yellow paper over the character for the dog.
Another restaurant’s owner surnamed Yang said he sells rice noodle soup in the morning but lunch customers order dog.
‘Business during the festival goes up about ninefold. But don’t worry, we always manage to have enough dogs,’ he said, adding that he planned to sell six dogs a day during the festival.
Dog meat sellers in Yulin have said previously that activists’ protests have actually attracted greater attention and encouraged more people to eat the meat.