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Yulin Dog Meat "Festival" (China)

As the largest coalition of animal protection organisations with particular expertise in Asia, we wish to support organizations working with or monitoring the Yulin Dog Meat “festival,” which occurs annually in Yulin, China.  We are here to ensure that accurate information, provided by our member organizations and trusted sources, is publicly available.  Please refer to this webpage for updates as the situation develops  and direct any enquiries to


According to our Core Member Organizations,  dog meat is still being sold for consumption in Yulin in 2023, despite the fact that it is now illegal to do so.  Dog meat sales  continue  each year in Yulin to mark the summer solstice, which in 2023 is on Sunday June 21. The festival’s full name is the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. Sadly, cats are eaten too, though apparently in smaller numbers.  

The “festival”, or mass dog killing without the name of festival,  may proceed, although dog meat is not a food product. In recent years, our sources report that fewer dogs have been slaughtered for food , and even fewer that are alive on site.  While dog meat sales  have continued in violation of multiple Chinese laws, regulations and policies, we can see a major shift from just a few years back. And the fact that dogs are not livestock or food animals strengthens the ability of organizations in Asia to report illegal activity to the authorities and support the local animal welfare groups who are doing the same. Despite the traders still flouting the recent decisions by the authorities, our contacts report that they are seeing the beginning of the end of the dog meat trade in China.

Is it illegal?


Yes - it is now illegal . The removal of dogs from the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources in 2020, together with other current regulations and laws, effectively makes the selling of dog meat illegal throughout China. Whether or how well this  is enforced remains to be seen.

Why is it consumed?


Members of the AfA coalition have confirmed that while the National Catalogue is a legal/policy document, more a policy recommendation as the basis of future lawmaking, it is not a piece of legislation yet. .  Dog meat trade has been sustained by a series of acts that directly challenge the authority of a host of existing Chinese laws such as the Criminal Law, the Food Safety Law, the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, and regulations on live transport. It is clear that selling dogs of unknown sources and of unknown health conditions  for consumption  is illegal. This means that no  dog restaurants, markets and slaughterhouses countrywide selling dogs as food are operating legally  - including in Yulin.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs notification on further strengthening animal quarantine work came into force on 8th June, 2020, and the first article clarifies the quarantine coverage according to the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources. It states that dogs and cats cannot be issued a quarantine certificate for slaughter, because cats and dogs are not included in the Catalogue. Therefore the sale of dog and cat meat on sale is illegal, because the appropriate certificates cannot legally be issued.

To add weight to this, on April 4, 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People's Republic of China issued a notice on the issuance of 22 animal quarantine regulations. Article of the 22nd attachment "Regulations for Supplementary Inspection of Animals and Animal Products" states that: dogs and cats, like mink in the National Catalogue of Animal Genetic Resources belong to non-edible animals.


There is presently much debate in China regarding the legal implications of traders ignoring these regulations and notifications.


No. Despite the fact that many of the animals are stolen pets, the meat is not cheap. It is eaten for  reasons promoted by the traders, as a health tonic and,  allegedly, for tradition. If the practice ended  tomorrow, nobody would starve.  Dog and cat meat is NOT part of China’s mainstream food culture.  Dog meat was not on the government’s food rationing list in the past nor is it on the list of meat guaranteed by China’s “Strategic Meat Reserve.” 




At its height, the Yulin dog meat festival was said to be responsible for 10,000 to 15,000 slaughtered dogs each year. In 2014 that figure dropped to 2,000 to 3,000. Sources in the last couple of years have put it at 1,000. However, in truth, there is no reliable monitoring and these figures may be out of date. Media attention on Yulin has been waning, especially over the past two or three years, with little targeted coverage, and there are consequently no updated figures to refer to.





The widely reported figure – though again very difficult to verify –  is 10 million. With the Chinese government’s COVID restrictions on trans-provincial live transport in the last two years, dog meat trade has been impacted. The slaughter number may have gone down by 20 to 30%.

Slaughter methods



Typically they suffer a death that is inhumane and far from efficient. They are snared around the neck with long metal pincers and dragged from their cages. Then they are either bludgeoned over the head, or stabbed in the neck or groin to be “bled out”. Other methods of killing include hanging or electrocution. This happens dog by dog so other dogs are likely to hear the howls and witness multiple deaths ahead of their own. This further spreads panic.


We don’t believe it is a standard trade practice  to boil or torch dogs alive. But inefficient slaughter techniques and the sheer scale of the killing involved means it’s probable that still-conscious dogs are added to the de-hairing machines. 

An often-repeated accusation is that the dogs are beaten to improve flavor or texture. This could be an act by individual perpetrators out of malice or for whatever other reasons. It is not a standard practice of the trade. Lingering deaths tend to be the result of an inefficient slaughter rather than a deliberate attempt to inflict pain. The trade is intrinsically cruel and already very ugly. It does not need this level of brutality to make it more ugly.

Rescuing dogs


With international and local media coverage of the festival growing each year, increasing numbers of animal lovers are travelling to Yulin with the intent of saving animals by buying them. Unfortunately, Chinese and International NGOs have confirmed that such well-meaning actions have now begun to support the same market they are trying to end. These actions are counterproductive, increasing profits for the dog meat industry. These foreign “rescuers” pay inflated prices that could rescue more dogs elsewhere. It's suggested that local Chinese travelling to Yulin would be better advised to save dogs in their own area.


In addition, while the spotlight is on Yulin during the “festival,” the long-term rehabilitation and housing of dogs remains an issue. In the weeks following Yulin it is often difficult to track the dogs once coverage of the festival diminishes


Please read this statement: Chinese animal charities urge animal lovers to stop buying dogs in Yulin


It's the Summer Solstice again. It's also the peak period for dog meat consumption in Yulin. In past years passionate animal lovers have travelled to Yulin to rescue dogs by paying vendors. This also includes foreign individuals and organisations joining rescues. Here, the following animal welfare groups make a joint appeal to oppose these paid-for rescues, the reasons are:

  1. Despite the number of dogs bought in Yulin, the absolute number of saved dogs is small while the absolute numbers of dogs consumed could yet be increased due to this abnormal stimulation of consumption within the market. By buying dogs in Yulin you objectively become part of the black market dog meat trade.

  2. Buying dogs pushes up the local dog meat price, increasing the price during the Summer Solstice period and helps vendors make more profit. This is an abnormal boost even though it enjoys public sympathy.

  3. There is the risk of criminal activity and it is open to abuse. Public announcements are not always backed up by transparent accounts and management and the dog meat market price is also affected by public announcements promising dog rescues. If rescuers have limited funds then Yulin festival is the worst time and location to carry out a paid-for rescue. The inflated price means many more dogs could be rescued away from the region.

  4. It is also difficult to track rescued animals after the event. A rescue is just the first step - frequently there is no money for rehabilitation for a large number of dogs. If the dogs have to be rehoused fast then it's impossible to background check individuals. There remains the risk that these could return back to dog markets. Even those moved by truck to far-flung shelters may die en route. Again it is open to abuse as individuals can exaggerate the number of rescued animals in return for donations.

Yulin people consume dog meat all the year round. If groups or individuals want to buy dogs in order to "save lives", they could purchase dogs at other times to avoid the festival period. The same amount of money will save more lives and there are also dog meat restaurants in other places. Dog lovers can buy dogs locally at a lower transport cost and save more lives.

Buying large number of dogs in Yulin stimulates the local market, increasing the number of slaughtered dogs and pushes up the price while the animal welfare of saved dogs cannot be supervised or guaranteed.

If there are those with resources large enough to start a Yulin dog meat trade transition then that's okay. For that they would have to buy out the industry, close all slaughterhouses and the dog meat restaurants. But just buying dogs will only stimulate the local industry and encourage crime. We would firmly say no to this.

Without an animal protection law and without the local government enforcing strict security supervision, we cannot stop the dog slaughtering in Yulin temporarily. While we push for animal protection legislation, we have to face the helpless truth that large number of animals will be killed. In the meantime we need the existing laws and regulations to be used.

We need to urge the government to strengthen law enforcement, we need to do more public education work, make more legal challenges, increase correspondence with government, seek more celebrity support, seek more international support and more media coverage. These are all pragmatic methods - not high profile buying of dogs, and not fundraising without transparent accounts where neither donations nor dogs can be tracked.

Via this joint-letter from 84 Chinese animal protection groups, we urge animal lovers to be sensible. We won't buy Yulin dogs from now on. We won't rescue dogs by buying them in slaughterhouses or dog markets.

Who is working on the issue?


Our Core Member Organizations who are working on the issue of cat and dog meat trade across Asia are:


The Animals Asia Foundation is communicating with people on the ground in Yulin who are monitoring situations on site around the time of the festival. They are also liaising with lawyers and other enforcement experts. Beyond that, Animals Asia’s dedicated Cat and Dog Welfare department works year round to help companion animals throughout China, and  through their public awareness campaigns in Yulin and the wider Guangxi province, regular visits to such sites like Yulin and  supporting local groups. 


Animals Asia does not rescue dogs from Yulin. 


NOTE: We encourage members of the public to contact the organizations working on this issue directly to support their work or receive more information on their activities. 

Animals Asia
Animals Asia Foundation

STATEMENT from Animals Asia Foundation


Ending dog and cat meat consumption is one of our founding goals. The great progress we have seen over the years, especially in the last year, demonstrates the overwhelming support for the protection of dogs and cats in China. We will continue our efforts to constructively support this change.”

How to help


There is much misinformation in circulation on the internet. Please refer to this page as a reliable source of information and rely on us to update.


Making donations
Please direct any donations to the organizations working on the ground on this issue either by supporting local organizations or working on long-term change in the country.


Share news only from trustworthy sources.  
Please support organisations working on the ground. 

Ending Yulin won’t end dog meat eating, but ending dog meat eating will end Yulin. The focus now must be on the year-round trade in dog meat and the fact that the sale of dogs and cats, and their meat for consumption is now illegal which is rife with abhorrent cruelty and blatant illegality.

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