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A group of brave animal lovers have stopped a truck full of dogs from being sent to a slaughterhouse where they were to be butchered and cooked into "soup".
The controversial Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, which is traditionally held on June 21 every year to mark summer solstice in southwest China, sees tens of thousands of dogs being killed and sold as meat to exotic restaurants.
Local animal activists have been tracking down what they called "trucks from hell" from other provinces and stopping them sending captured stray dogs and old pet dogs to the city.
Footage shared by campaigners at Changsha Province Animal Protection Association shows dozens of tiny crates with dogs inside.
The terrified pooches can be heard whining when the rescuers ripped open a muslin cloth so they could fetch the animals water.
The truck was reportedly loaded with 2,000 dogs, with many starved and tortured in horrible conditions, according to the campaigners.
They also said the successful rescue had saved these animals from turning into "delicacies" and soup.
Julia De Cadenet, CEO of London-founded charity NoToDogMeat, received the footage from the activists on the ground and responded: "We are so shocked and disappointed that it looks like so many dogs are being transported to Yulin, it is devastating news.
"No one was expecting such a big truck, and so many dogs, it's like they want it to be bigger than ever.
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"Last year our campaigners on the ground uncovered a giant slaughter house which was in breach of the rules, so it is clear that these butchers will stop at nothing to have their fun.
"Many of these dogs are people's pets, and far from tradition, the festival began in 2009. It is about nothing but cruelty and it must be stopped."
The Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is annually the subject of global condemnation, and in recent years the Chinese government has made steps to outlaw such activities.
In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made an official statement that dogs are companion animals and not “livestock” for eating, and two major cities in mainland China – Shenzhen and Zhuhai – banned the consumption of dog and cat meat.
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