The annual Chinese Dog Meat Festival may end up dogless as activists have reported a ban against the sale of the canine meat will be implemented as the summer solstice celebration draws near.
According to The New York Times, officials in the southern city of Yulin agreed to prohibit the sale and consumption of dog meat in the week before the festival.
However, the publication notes that no city officials were able to confirm the ban, and dog restaurants contacted by the BBC said they hadn’t even heard of such a restriction.
News of the ban came from the Humane Society International and a California-based animal advocacy group called Duo Duo Project. The organizations cited reports from Chinese animal rights crusaders and dog meat traders in Yulin.
“I don’t think they will publicly acknowledge it,” said founder of the Duo Duo Project, Andrea Gung, of government officials. “But my source spoke with every single one of the dog meat vendors at Dongkou” (Yulin’s main market for the meat) “and they all said the same thing: a seven-day ban on dog meat sales starting on June 15.”
Apparently, the stipulations of the ban are that anyone caught selling dog meat in the week leading up to the festival will face fines up to 100,000 renminbi — or approximately $14,500 — and possible prison time.
“I’m optimistic,” Peter J. Li, a China policy adviser to Humane Society International, told The New York Times. “Of course we understand that no law can completely deter the sale of dog meat in Yulin. But this ban suggests that the government is becoming more serious about taking action in a determined way.”
While the ban is still technically unconfirmed, the possibility of one signifies major strides for animal rights advocacy in China, particularly as pet ownership rates have risen, The New York Times notes.
The issue, though, is that even if this ban is implemented, it only lasts for a week and does not extend through the duration of the festival. This means that dog consumption, overall, probably won’t be drastically impacted. Additionally, it is unclear whether the ban applies to cats, which are also consumed during the festival.
This ban does, however, sends dog meat vendors and restaurants a stark warning about the bleak future of their businesses.
“Even though these dog meat traders will probably return to business as usual, the ban still sends a clear signal: From now on, your livelihood and your business will only become much more difficult,” Li said.
The festival is set to kick off on June 21, only then will we know for sure if this ban is truly executed and what impact it has on this controversial tradition.