Reports that local authorities in Yulin will be canceling this year’s dog meat festival in the southern Chinese city have caused jubilation among dog lovers and animal rights activists.
Activists, however, cited local sources who reported that selling dog meat has been banned a week before the festival. Those who are caught violating the ban will be arrested and fined up to $15,000.
According to Time, the action was initiated by Yulin’s new Chinese Communist Party Secretary Mo Gong Ming, who reportedly aims to change the city’s image following the massive international outrage that the practice has ignited.
Last year, a petition calling for the abolishment of the festival was able to garner 11 million signatures.
“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” Andrea Gung, executive director of the anti-dog and cat meat campaign group Duo Duo Project, was quoted as saying.
“This ban is consistent with my experience that Yulin and the rest of the country are changing for the better.”
Activists are hoping that the government also further enforces existing prohibitions on the transportation of live animals to effectively stop the practice permanently.
“The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet,” said Humane Society International China Policy specialist Peter Li. “But if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade.”
However, no further details about the ban have been disclosed so far, and some advocates are worried that there is still no guarantee that citizens and visitors of Yulin will abide as the entire event has not been actually been officially sanctioned.
“Eating dog has been Yulin people’s tradition for quite a long time,” a restaurant owner in Yulin told Time. “I haven’t heard our government will stop the festival, or stop the selling of dog meat.”
Although the tradition of eating dog meat began over 400 years ago in China, the Yulin Dog Meat festival was only started in 2009 by dog meat traders. The practice has since been dubbed as barbaric and inhumane by animal rights groups worldwide.