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An innocent dog’s life has been saved thanks to a group of animal activities fighting to end the brutal dog meat trade in China.

The white Akita, named Lucky by rescuers, was found chained up outside a meat shop in Yulin, Guangxi province, with a ‘dog meat for sale’ sign in front of him.

He was the “last living dog of the day to be scheduled for slaughter”, before the activists persuaded the shop keeper to give him up.

They believe there were obvious signs he had once been a pet dog and had therefore likely been stolen by thieves.

Lucky is now safe and happily in the care of a veterinary shelter in north China, supported by Humane Society International.

Lucky was super friendly and used to walking on a leash ( Humane Society International)

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Chinese animal activists are urging Yulin authorities to ban the city’s annual June gathering for the ‘Lychee and Dog Meat Festival’, for which the slaughter of dogs and cats for consumption increases.

The event was launched in 2010 by dog meat traders to boost flagging sales.

It starts on June 21 and can attract thousands of visitors from across the province in southern China, who gather to eat dog meat stew and crispy dog meat at the city’s restaurants and stalls.

Rescuers persuaded the shop keeper to give him over ( Humane Society International)

Activists are appealing to local authorities to stop the mass public gathering from going ahead, to protect public health and animal welfare.

Liang Jia, a Guangxi activist, said: “The streets of Yulin are relatively quiet right now, and although you can see a few dog meat shops, stalls and dog slaughterhouses like normal, it’s nothing compared to how it will look in mid-June.

“While elsewhere in China, cities are in COVID-19 lockdown, it makes no sense for Yulin dog meat traders to be allowed to encourage visitors to travel across the province and into the city.

Yulin dog traders are getting ready for the annual festival ( Humane Society International)

“As well as the appalling animal cruelty that will take place with thousands of dogs and cats bludgeoned to death, it’s an obvious public health risk.

“The Yulin authorities should be taking this seriously because it would be hugely embarrassing for the Yulin dog meat festival to become a super-spreader event.”

Liang explains that most people across China don’t eat dogs, and even in Yulin, 72 percent of citizens don’t regularly eat canines.

He was the last living dog of the day at the meat shop ( Humane Society International)

Nationwide, there is a significant Chinese opposition to the dog meat trade as concern for animal welfare grows.

In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not “livestock” for eating.

That same year, two major cities in mainland China – Shenzhen and Zhuhai – banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling showed was supported by nearly 75 percent of Chinese citizens.

More people are becoming opposed to consuming dog meat in China ( Humane Society International)

Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International, said: “Lucky had a narrow escape because only one blowtorched dog carcass was left on sale at the shop, meaning he would have been next.

“But Lucky is just one of millions of dogs who suffer at the hands of dog traders across China, and one of thousands who end up in Yulin for the summer solstice event.

“His rescuers say he was super friendly, used to walking on a leash and happily jumped into the back of the activists’ car without hesitation, so it seems clear that he was once someone’s pet, and indeed many of the dogs killed for meat are pets stolen from back yards, outside shops and even from cars.

The shop front was surrounded by blowtorched bodies of dead dogs ( Humane Society International)

“COVID-19 precautions add another compelling reason to crack down on dog trade gatherings like this, in addition to the brutal cruelty and criminal activity.”

Another pup rescued by Humane Society International from a dog meat farm is Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown was among dozens of innocent dogs being kept in “filthy and deprived conditions” in Namyangju, with no access to water, exercise or bedding.

The charity work tirelessly to save the lives of stolen dogs ( Humane Society International)

If it weren’t for the organisation, Charlie Brown would have been “killed by electrocution or slaughterhouse and made into dog soup”.

Caroline Day, 51, from North London, adopted Charlie Brown from All Dogs Matter, an animal charity that works with HSI to find homes for rescue dogs in the UK.

Caroline said: “It seems beyond barbaric that this bright, loving, beautiful animal was caged in such inhumane conditions and would, if he hadn’t been rescued, have been brutally killed for food.”

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