Animal rights activists have clashed with stall-holders at the dog meat festival in the southern Chinese town of Yulin where thousands of dogs are expected to be slaughtered.
WARNING: This story contains pictures and descriptions that some people might find distressing.
An annual dog-meat festival is underway in southern China despite angry protests by animal rights activists.
About 10,000 dogs are expected to be slaughtered and eaten at the Yulin festival, which starts on Monday.
Images have emerged of grown dogs and pups stuffed in tiny cages ready for sale.
Locals believe eating the dog meat together with lychees will keep them healthy through the winter, claiming both foods contain “hot energy”.
“At the moment we don’t have the ability to change people’s habits. If the government had animal protection laws, the people would naturally change."
Animal rights campaigner Yang Xiaoyun clashed with stall-holders ahead of the festival, as she tried to save the dogs.
Yang Xiaoyun made headlines last year when she spent the equivalent of $A31,000 buying 350 dogs to ensure they weren’t killed for meat.
It’s believed this year she’s already spent $A1,100 buying another 100 dogs from vendors.
“Lots of people are willing to sell dogs to me because I give a good price,” Yang Xiaoyun said.
“At the moment we don’t have the ability to change people’s habits, this is the government’s responsibility isn’t it? If the government had animal protection laws, the people would naturally change. If the government doesn’t have a law, there’s no way the few of us that come here every year to buy dogs can change people’s habits,” she said.
Yang Xiaoyun hopes international pressure will force the Chinese Government to act.
English comedian and actor Ricky Gervais has already spoken out on twitter, using the hashtag #StopYulin2015.
An online petition to ban the festival has also already attracted more than 3.8 million signatures.
There are reports many of the dogs are stolen family pets or strays.
Many of the animals are injured or die in their cramped cages, while the rest are clubbed over the head and have their throats slit before they are thrown into boiling water and plucked of all their hair.
Despite the uproar, plenty of locals insist they will continue eating dog meat.
“This is one of our traditions, they criticise us saying we don’t have compassion or humanity, but I think every person has different circumstances. You can’t just lump all people together, for example, if I think eating pork is really brutal, then no one can eat pork,” said Liang Xiaoli, who returned home from Suzhou especially for the festival.