The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is due to take place this weekend. Upwards of 10,000 dogs and cats will be barbarically slaughtered for human consumption, having been stuffed into cages and transported to the Chinese city. The festival, which began in 2009, has been the target of growing criticism; one petition in China has garnered 20 million signatures, and over 50 peaceful protests have taken place around the country as activists around the globe call for an end to this hideously cruel event. Click here to add your name to Humane Society International’s petition calling for an end to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

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The Humane Society International reports many of the dogs that will be killed in Yulin this weekend are strays and stolen pets. The animals are beaten and killed by having their throats slit, often in front of other terrified, malnourished dogs. Last year the local government announced they would not support the Dog Meat Festival, resulting in a smaller event in which fewer dogs were killed—and officials had previously claimed this years event would not go ahead. Unfortunately, they appear to be wrong.

While around 10 million dogs are killed for meat each year in China, it is an increasingly controversial practice—and certainly not part of the culinary norm. As more people keep dogs as companions, there is growing disgust at the notion one would eat them. Recently a dog meat restaurant in Beijing closed down after 51 years, and there is a strong movement calling for a ban on the killing of dogs for human consumption in the country.

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Indeed, the Yulin Dog Meat festival is not part of any established tradition; it was founded in 2009-2010 by those involved in the dog meat trade as a way to promote their business and celebrate the summer solstice. Furthermore, according to Peter Yi at HSI, the consumption of dog meat fell out of favor as an “indecent” act way back in the times of the Sui-Tang dynasties (581-907 AD).

And it’s not just the dogs and cats who suffer as a result of this annual event; according to CNN, China has the world’s second-highest incidence of rabies in humans, and the Guangxi province, where Yulin is located, has the largest number of cases in China. It’s not that rabies is transmitted by eating the meat, but rather that the disease spreads through the unvaccinated dogs that are kept in close confines, and those handling and slaughtering the animals are at a high risk for contracting the disease.

Activists in China have made their voices heard, and some are attempting to save the dogs and cats from slaughter. Add your voice to those calling for an end to this barbaric practice.

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