People in southern China have celebrated an annual dog meat festival by slaughtering over 2,000 dogs despite mounting protests from animal welfare groups and pet owners.
The festival was celebrated on Saturday to mark the summer solstice in Yulin City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
About 2,000 dogs were consumed, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Though the dog meat was freely eaten earlier, it has now been restricted to few areas in China due to spirited campaign mounted by activists all over the country.
Thousands of captured dogs which were on their way to being slaughtered were seized by the activists.
In Yulin City, farmers and vendors packed dogs into cages and transported them to the market for selling.
The roads were crowded with people, motorbikes and cars, the Xinhua report said.
Among sellers and buyers in the market, a group of people attracted attention.
They also bought dogs, but not for eating.
“We have bought more than 200 dogs and planned to bring them to our hometown. We cannot stop local people celebrating the long-standing festival, but we can save as many dogs in our own way,” said a woman surnamed Yang, a dog lover from Tianjin, who paid an average 500 yuan (USD 85) for each dog.
Although local residents did not give up their traditional habit, the dog meat festival sales have decreased under pressure from animal welfare groups and dog lovers, who have protested in markets and restaurants over the past few days.
Some protests even led to confrontations, Xinhua reported.
As of Friday, 17 local restaurants serving dog dishes had stopped this business, while four other illegal ones were banned by the city’s food and drug administration, said the administration’s deputy head Chen Taotao.
About 48 restaurants in Yulin still served dog dishes.