Photo: Billy H.C.Kwok
Horrifying Photos of China's Dog-Eating Festival—and the Activists Who Are Trying to Stop It
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Horrifying Photos of China's Dog-Eating Festival—and the Activists Who Are Trying to Stop It

By Photo: Billy H.C.Kwok

On Tuesday, the United States celebrated National Dog Day. But dogs aren’t necessarily revered pets in every corner of the world. Every June, the southern Chinese city of Yulin celebrates the summer solstice with a dog-eating festival. Animal-rights activists estimate that around 10,000 dogs are killed every year for the festival, where they're consumed along with lychees and grain alcohol. Some dogs are strays while others are stolen pets, and breeds range from Dalmatians to Labradors to Tibetan Mastiffs. This year, some festival-goers started early to avoid the protesters, who didn’t succeed in shutting down the 2014 festival but did drive up the price of meat.

Warning: Some of these images may disturb readers.

Billy H.C.Kwok
Located in Yulin City, the “Big Market” is the largest trading center for live dogs, some of which will end up on the dining table. The city government has not taken a stance on the dog-eating fesitval, instead simply stating that they have no connection to it. 
Billy H.C.Kwok
As the festival approaches, dog-meat traders kill live dogs for customers in the slaughterhouse while others do so right on the street.
Billy H.C.Kwok
In Yulin Dongkou Market, animal-rights groups and monks from Guangxi recite Buddhist scriptures in front of slaughtered dogs. 
Billy H.C.Kwok
On June 21 in Yulin Tongkou Market, animal-rights volunteers carry candles and recite Buddhist scriptures to pray for the slaughtered dogs.
Billy H.C.Kwok
The dog-eating is concentrated on this street in Yulin. From 6 p.m. until midnight, the streets are flooded with dog-meat eaters. 
Billy H.C.Kwok
Some traders offer one-stop service to customers, from slaughtering live dogs to processing the meat to selling it. 
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Dog meat for sale in Yulin Tongkou Market, while an activist takes a picture.
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A cook prepares dog meat inside a restaurant in Yulin. Dogs are purchased whole from the market, then smeared with soy sauce and grilled using a smoke gun to remove excess fur. This process enhances the smell and makes the dog skin crunchy and tasty.
Billy H.C.Kwok
At the same restaurant, diners eat just feet away from where the dog meat is processed.
Billy H.C.Kwok
Animal-rights activists hand out leaflets and protest outside restaurants, sometimes in conflict with locals.
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Activists protest near restaurants that serve dog meat.
Billy H.C.Kwok
Yang Yuhua, of Chongqing, buys dogs from the market to save them from slaughter. She says she owns a dog farm with 500 stray dogs and has spent thousands of dollars in Yulin to save almost 100 dogs.
Billy H.C.Kwok
Some Yulin locals bring their dogs to the trading center to sell to buyers for around 300 yuan, or $50.
Billy H.C.Kwok
According to animal-rights groups, most of the dogs come from all over China. Only a very small number of them are raised locally in Yulin.
Billy H.C.Kwok
An animal-rights activist, Du Yufeng, feeds water to a dog. Some dogs die even before being slaughtered because of a lack of food and water while trapped in cages.
Billy H.C.Kwok
As many as eight dogs are crammed into cages meant for cats or chickens.
Billy H.C.Kwok
With virtually no space, the dogs sometimes turn on each other and suffer bites. 
Billy H.C.Kwok
Many dog-meat vendors claim that the government has performed stricter oversight in 2014, forbidding the import of live dogs from outside of Yulin.
Billy H.C.Kwok
Activists attempt to stop dog traders from going to the market by negotiating with them. The activists purchase dogs to "save" them, but many traders use this as a business opportunity to sell dogs to them for above-market price.
Billy H.C.Kwok
Activists carry a cage of dogs they've purchased.

Billy H.C.Kwok is photojournalist based in Hong Kong.

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