A dog meat festival in southern China went on over the weekend even after the local government tried to lower the profile of the controversial event. Animal rights advocates protested against dog meat vendors, including one who demanded that protesters meet his price for a live dog or he would strangle it.
Sales of dog meat in Yulin, a city near Vietnam in the southern Chinese region of Guangxi, did increase during the festival period, but it was way less than the previous year.
The Yulin government, which had previously promoted the festival, announced this year that it was not involved and that there was no official holiday to celebrate the eating of dogs.
Some local residents held dog meat banquets a week ago to avoid animal rights activists. Seventeen restaurants stopped selling dog meat dishes on their own, and four were banned from doing so by the authorities, while 48 other restaurants continued serving dog meat.
China has no animal cruelty laws, and the consumption of dogs and cats is legal but badly regulated.
Dog meat is a traditional dish in parts of far northern and southern China, and in Yulin, residents eat dog meat and lychees to celebrate the summer solstice. Technically, the practice is both traditional and legal. Hence, they resent outsiders trying to shut down the festival.
At least one confrontation turned violent on Saturday, and one customer at a dog meat restaurant was injured in a clash with protesters.
On Friday, activists purchased at least 200 live dogs from vendors to keep them from being butchered.