A notorious Chinese dog meat festival opened on Wednesday with sellers torching the hair off carcasses, butchers chopping slabs of canines and cooks frying up dishes, dispelling rumours that authorities would ban sales this year.
After earlier reports of a sales ban at the summer solstice event in the southern city of Yulin, animal rights groups said vendors and officials reached a compromise and set a limit of two dogs on display per stall.
But multiple carcasses rested on several stalls at two markets, with stiff pointy tails, leathery yellow skin, eyes shut and bared teeth as if in a final growl.
Crowds of umbrella-toting festivalgoers braved the rain to stand in line outside popular restaurants, but animal welfare groups said sales appeared to be down this year.
Behind two long rows of dog butchers at the Nanqiao market, others sold cow tongues and pork hocks. But even they sold some dog parts, including liver.
Others offered poultry, vegetables and fruit, including big bundles of lychees, which are eaten alongside dog dishes.
There was a heavy police presence outside the market and at all intersections but officers did not seem to be checking stalls.
A man yelled at an AFP reporter at the Dongkou market, warning against taking photos and demanding that they be deleted.
Residents said dog meat was just part of their tradition.
Wu San, 40, used a blowtorch to burn the hair off a dead dog on the floor of a house.
It was given by a friend who had used it as a guard dog but no longer wanted it because “it would only wag its tail, it wouldn’t bark anymore,” Wu said.
“We’ll eat it tonight with friends,” Wu said. “Small dogs don’t taste good. Dogs that are too fat don’t taste good either.”
– ‘Significant decrease’ –
Thousands of dogs have traditionally been killed during the festival in conditions activists describe as brutal, with dogs beaten and boiled alive in the belief that the more terrified they are, the tastier the meat.
The tradition dates back centuries to the Ming…