19:43 GMT26 January 2021
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    Animal activists saved more than a thousand caged dogs from slaughter at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, where people buy dog meat for consumption, believing that it helps ward off the heat.

    The controversial annual Dog Meat Festival kicked off in China's Yulin city on Tuesday. About 10,000 dogs and cats spent their last days in tiny cages to be slaughtered and eaten in the course of 10 days.

    It is estimated that 10 to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat every year in China. The tradition of eating dog meat dates back some 500 years. The locals believe that eating dog meat helps cope with the heat; however, the Yulin festival is a relatively new one, having begun only in recent years. According to the local government, the festival does not even have official backing and is instead run by private businesses. The cruel event has faced widespread domestic and international opposition, and over 11 million have signed a petition calling for it to be banned forever.

    American activist Marc Ching travelled to Yulin before the start of the festival on his seventh mission to Asia, and started work trying to rescue the frightened caged dogs. By the end of Tuesday, Ching and his companion had managed to save over a thousand dogs from six slaughterhouses.

    The activist has employed different ways to shut down the slaughterhouses: sometimes he pretended to be a buyer and shipped exhausted animals back to the US for rehabilitation, in other cases he managed to persuade the slaughterhouse owners to give up the trade for a chance to make a new start with Ching's help.

    The Humane Society International arrived to support the Yulin slaughterhouse dog rescue effort, Ching wrote on his Facebook page. They will help dogs find a new life free from darkness and suffering, in some of the best homes around the world.

    slaughter, festival, dogs, China
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