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China's Yulin dog meat festival has opened for what could be the last time, amid widespread calls from campaigners to put an end to it.
The Chinese government has also announced that dogs are classified as pets and not livestock.
The Yulin festival went ahead, despite activists urging local authorities to take action following the national declaration, calling on them to cancel the dog meat festival, which began yesterday (21 June).
The Humane Society International reported that campaigners rescued 10 'friendly and innocent' puppies that were to be sold for meat at a market outside Yulin. Traders could also be seen chopping up dog carcasses.
It's also been reported that the dog meat stalls and shops that were once scattered around the city have now been consolidated into one central area - the Nanchao market on the outskirts of Yulin.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International, said: "The Yulin authorities may want to keep a closer eye on all the dog meat trade activity by centralising it more or less at one market, possibly because of the increasingly controversial nature of the dog meat business.
"While some traders told the activists they were doing as much business as possible to make up for lack of sales from January to March due to the coronavirus, others reported that it is now harder to acquire live dogs from outside Guangxi province due to the government's crackdown on trans-provincial animal transport.
"Instead of the huge slaughter trucks of previous years bringing in thousands of dogs at a time, they say it is more common now to see small truckloads of mostly locally sourced dogs from nearby towns."
Elsewhere in China, the city of Shenzen also recently announced it had banned the sale and human consumption of dog and cat meat among its 12.5million population.
Lawmakers identified that the ruling is a 'universal civilisation requirement for a modern society'.
A spokesperson for the Shenzhen government said: "Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
"This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilisation."
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, China put a temporary ban on wild animal markets to prevent people from being infected.
The country has promised to look at the ban once the pandemic settles down to see if it should be upgraded to permanent.
Featured Image Credit: Humane Society International
Topics: World News