YULIN, Guangxi - As a local festival featuring the consumption of dog meat approaches, retailers in Yulin, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said business has been hurt by the protests of animal rights groups and dog lovers.
Traditionally on the summer solstice - June 21 this year - local residents in the region celebrate with dog-meat hotpot, lychees and liquor. At least 10,000 dogs are eaten during a typical festival.
As Saturday approaches, animal right groups and dog lovers are pouring into the city, hoping to save dogs by discouraging residents from following the custom.
At around 5 am on Thursday, activists searching for dog-slaughtering locations stopped a tricycle carrying eight animals. The carrier agreed to sell the dogs and two cages for 1,150 yuan (S$230) after a lengthy argument. The activists also bought six puppies at a dog market for 1,200 yuan (S$240).
"As long as we can save one dog, we will do it," said Yang Yuhua, 64, from Chongqing municipality.
A dozen Buddhists and dog lovers from Guangdong, Sichuan and Chongqing provinces performed a religious ceremony on Wednesday in a major retail dog meat market.
They said they hoped that the rite would console the souls of the slaughtered dogs and convince local people to change their habits. The team, headed by a Buddhist monk, walked around the Dongkou market, reciting prayers.
On Wednesday evening, eight activists took to the street where more than a dozen restaurants that serve dog meat are located. The activists carried posters calling on people to stop eating the meat and handed out pamphlets.
Local dog-meat eaters engaged them in a lively debate, as dozens of passers-by listened in. The activists proclaimed that dogs are friends of humans, and that eating dog meat can be unhealthy.