I went undercover at barbaric dog meat fest beloved by warped 'danger tourists' – trader's cruel offer left me stunned | The Sun

A BARBARIC dog-eating festival in China has returned "bigger and crueller" than ever after long-standing Covid restrictions were lifted and 'danger tourists' fly in from around the globe.

Undercover activists have revealed how record number of puppies are being hung, blowtorched and consumed in soups for £6 at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival – while even cats are on the stomach-churning menu this year.

The horrific 10-day event, which began today with a traditional midnight 'slaughter', has historically seen around 10,000 canines cruelled killed each season.

Chilling photographs provided to The Sun show canine carcasses on tables and tiny puppies crammed into claustrophobically small cages awaiting to be viciously slaughtered as meat. 

The flagrant scenes fly in the face of a supposed ban on the consumption of non-livestock animals in China following the spread of the coronavirus, which many experts speculated stemmed from similar ‘wet markets’.

In an exclusive interview, activist Qin Xi Zhao, who went undercover ahead of the event for British charity NoToDogMeat, says one trader offered him bigger dogs if he "brought a big bag" – while he found other adorable animals like cats being boiled alive in large pots.


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Mr Zhao tells The Sun: “Dog carcasses are being displayed openly on tables in the main streets of Yulin, with no covers and blood and juices run into the streets as they are being chopped up.

“Down on the floor below the tables, there are live dogs in cages, which will be slaughtered in public near crowds of people. 

“They are often hanged before being blowtorched while they are still alive to remove their fur.

"The puppies have been bred for meat slaughter, and as well as at the puppy farm we have seen puppies on the stalls at the markets awaiting their fate. 

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NoToDogMeat activist Qin Xi Zhao went undercover earlier this week to save puppies from a slaughterhouseCredit: NoToDogMeat
Dead dogs kept in unsanitary conditions were loaded into a van ready to be sold as meatCredit: NoToDogMeat
One stall where blowtorched pets were being sold – dog meat soups cost £6Credit: NoToDogMeat

“We’ve seen more puppies this year than ever before, which may be due to late breeding or maybe to add an extra spectacle of cruelty now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted."

Charity boss Julia de Cadenet explains that, in addiction to locals returning in force, Western 'danger tourists' seeking a 'YOLO' (You Only Live Once) moment may also be causing a spike in numbers after the lifting of China's final Covid-19 travel protocols in January.

Julia says: "[Authorities] said that there would be no live slaughter, they said that there are no dog farms, but since we have been there we have seen both on a wide scale.

"Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, it also opens the doors to sick disaster tourists from the West who want their ‘YOLO’ moment. "

Chilling offer

Those who consume dog meat, which is cooked into stews and soups, believe there are health benefits including increased sexual stamina and immunity from diseases and poisons.

Hundreds of dogs were slaughtered and butchered at farms and businesses around the area in the early hours of this morning in preparation for the festival.

Mr Zhao, who was racing around to save as many pets as possible, told us: "At midnight, butchers will mass kill as many dogs as they can.

"Beiliu is a busy area for supply and slaughter. Dog meat there is sold at 40 Yuan (£4.37) a kilo, a bit less than the city."

Mr Zhao went undercover in smaller markets and secret slaughterhouses to barter with traders to buy the animals alive and rescue them. 

He tells us: “Each puppy that we witnessed was being sold for around £33 and a portion of the soup is sold for around £6. 

“The soup is touted as a health tonic, but for many people, it is just the meal they enjoy as part of their day out. 

“Some of the more elaborate dishes, such as those with puppies, are sold for about £22.”

In particularly harrowing scenes at a slaughter camp outside the city, Mr Zhao was offered a puppy for £33 and told he could buy big dogs if he brought “a large bag”.

The activist said many of the dogs waiting on death row were severely unwell. He believes many were bred for the slaughterhouses in nearby villages and others were stray or unwanted pets. 

Mr Zhao says: “Puppies are mostly dehydrated and many were seen eating dirt and rocks. If they die they will be fed to the other dogs or boiled into soup.”

Cat stew

It’s not just dogs either. The activist found slaughterhouses where they were selling cats dead or alive to be eaten too. 

In suburbs of the festival area, Mr Zhao witnessed felines being boiled alive in pots after having their hair removed. 

If that horrific ordeal, which is used to create the popular ‘Dragon Tiger Fight’ stew, hasn’t killed them, their belly is sliced open so they bleed out. 

Speaking about the conditions these animals are kept in, Mr Zhao says: “Puppies and kittens are bred in cramped and squalid conditions. 

“The puppies are removed from their mothers too early and both the cats and dogs are riddled with infectious diseases.”

Traders and members of the public are able to visit these slaughterhouses and buy animals by the kilo or individually – either dead or alive. 

Mr Zhao says: "At one farm we bought a 'large bag' of live puppies who are now receiving medical treatment and care. But we do not know if they will be well enough to survive. 

“As well as being inhumane, breeding and butchering animals like this carries a grave public health risk.

“There is urine and faeces from the live dogs – most are dehydrated and have signs of infectious disease.”

The campaigner has been working for NoToDogMeat for years and is he is “appalled” by the sights he has seen at this year's festival.

He says: “We have counted 300 restaurants and the markets are packed with stalls. It is everywhere, on the outskirts, and in the city centre. 

“It is bigger and crueller than we have ever seen, and this is completely devastating and disheartening for the charity as it feels like a giant step back.

"I am Chinese and this is my country. We have just come out of unbearable pandemic restrictions, and then to see this willful and widespread cruelty, which also has public health implications, it is beyond appalling.

“I stand against the demonic force, which lacks humanity. Many more activists would like to speak out but they are increasingly disheartened in the face of such cruelty. "

Mr Zhao says he “proudly” wears his NoToDogMeat T-shirt “as a small act of defiance” in public and feels “powerless” knowing he can only “save a few lives”.

The charity, which has more than 750 dogs in their care currently andis expecting many more after Yulin, was set up by London-based lawyer Julia de Cadenet back in 2009.  

She tells us there are frustrating restrictions including transport papers and health certificates for the animals they rescue, yet “nothing is demanded of the traders in Yulin”.

Julia says: “It’s madness because we can’t save them all and you feel so powerless. We have to choose the animals we think will survive the journey. 

“I feel really disheartened. I predicted this year’s festival would be bigger than before but it’s especially brutal and feels like Groundhog Day.

“We have uncovered slaughterhouses that seem to show no sign of abating and it’s spread further. But we don’t see this as a defeat, we’ve got to continue. 

“At the rate it’s going, I don’t think this will end in my lifetime but what can we do? We cannot bare witness to what’s happening and do nothing, we owe it to the animals.”

Julia also claims police officers have prevented anyone trying to photograph or film in the markets, but have not ensured public health or safety is enforced. 

She tells us: "Brave Mr Zhao and his team are working hard to expose what we knew would happen, that Yulin is bigger than ever, and the authorities are doing nothing to stop it.

“It breaks our hearts and is so traumatic but the fight must continue. 

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“We have already rescued a number of dogs from this terrible fate, but our broader diplomatic work is important, as it will help more dogs and cats in the future.”

If you want to find out more about the charity’s work visit: www.NoToDogMeat.com. To donate to this year's fundraiser visit: www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/Yulin2023.

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