Yulin dog meat festival opens despite reports of ban

Yulin dog meat festival (Getty)
Thousands of dogs, a number of them stolen pets, are slaughtered and served in the Yulin festival. Photo credit: Getty / file

Warning: This article contains images which may disturb some people.

A controversial China festival infamous for serving dog and cat meat has opened as planned this year, despite earlier reports authorities had told vendors to scrap the dog meat.

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.

Activist group Humane Society International reported in May that the Yulin government was planning to ban restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at its summer festival.

Yulin dog meat festival (Reuters)
Photo credit: Reuters / file

But the festival has opened as usual this year, with city officials confirming to media there was no ban in place.

The festival has previously made changes in response to outrage from activists. Last year, the local government banned the slaughter of dogs in public as part of it.

Vendors maintain the animals are humanely slaughtered, but activists claim they are instead brutally killed after being packed into wire cages without food or water.

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

The festival sees vendors bring dogs and cats into the city, 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.