Beijing: People in southern China celebrated the annual dog meat festival on Saturday despite mounting protests from animal welfare groups and pet owners from across the world.
The festival to mark the summer solstice in Yulin City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, slated for June 21, witnesses around 2,000 dogs being consumed every year, Xinhua reported.
In the morning, farmers and vendors packed dogs into cages and transported them to the market for selling.
"I come every year. This time, I caged three dogs for trade. All are raised by my family," Xinhua quoted a farmer from Fumian district as saying.
A vendor surnamed Pang from Xingye county said that he bought dogs in villages before the summer solstice and traded them later in the market.
"In previous years, I can sell 70 to 80 dogs on the occasion and earn four yuan (less than $1) per kilogram of dog meat," Pang added.
Among sellers and buyers in the market, there were quite a few who bought dogs, but not for eating.
"We have bought more than 200 dogs and planned to bring them to our hometown. We cannot stop local people celebrating the long-standing festival, but we can save as many dogs in our own way," said a woman surnamed Yang, a dog lover from Tianjin City, who paid an average of 400 yuan to 500 yuan for each dog.
Although local residents did not give up their tradition, the dog meat festival sales have decreased under pressure from animal welfare groups and dog lovers, who have protested in markets and restaurants over the past few days.
Some protests even led to confrontations.
As of Friday, 17 local restaurants serving dog dishes had stopped this business, while four other illegal ones were banned by the city's food and drug administration, said the administration's deputy head Chen Taotao.
Chen said 48 restaurants in Yulin are still serving dog dishes.