Dog meat to be banned from controversial Yulin festival

Dog meat festival in Yulin, China
Thousands of dogs, a number of them stolen pets, are slaughtered and served in the Yulin festival (Reuters)

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An infamous dog meat festival in southwestern China is reportedly set to pull its main seller, after massive protests by animal rights activists worldwide.

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin was started in 2010 and has been dogged by controversy since.

Thousands of dogs are estimated to be slaughtered for their meat as part of the 10-day festival, with a number of them stolen pets or strays.

According to Humane Society International, this year's festival will be without its titular attraction.

Sources told the activists the Yulin government is set to ban restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at its summer festival.

There is no word yet on whether cat meat, which is also on sale at the festival, will too be banned.

"The ban seems to have been initiated by Mr Mo Gong Ming, Yulin's new party secretary, and it is set to come into force a week prior to the start of the festival," Humane Society International said.

Dog meat festival in Yulin, China
Thousands of dogs are estimated to be slaughtered for their meat as part of the 10-day festival (Reuters)

"Authorities are reportedly determined to enforce the ban and violators can face fines of up to 100,000 yuan (NZ$21,000), or even incarceration."

The festival has drawn criticism from activists across the world, including others in China, who say the dogs are packed into wire cages without food or water before being brutally killed.

It's alleged the majority of the meat comes from stolen pets.

A petition called for an end to the festival, with 11 million signatures, was delivered to the Yulin government last year, according to Human Society International.

"While we recognize that this announcement is temporary, it is nonetheless an extraordinarily hopeful sign that Yulin will one day soon consign dog eating to the history books," it said.

The festival sees vendors bring dogs and cats into the city being butchering them and serving the meat in local stalls and restaurants.

An outpouring of negativity from activists has dragged down its popularity, going from 10,000 dogs slaughtered in 2013, to around 1000 in 2015.