A Decade Later: Vita’s Rescue Inspires Fight Against Yulin Dog Meat Festival
Vita’s rescue was nothing short of a miracle. As our team made their way through an illegal slaughterhouse in the city of Zhanjiang, they stumbled upon a dog destined to be killed. She wasn’t alone awaiting slaughter, but she quickly caught the attention of our investigators. As the other dogs sat terrified in the corners of the slaughterhouse, this dog approached the visitors, seemingly pleading for her life.
The investigators wasted no time. It was a risky operation, as the slaughterhouse workers could not know of our undercover operations or it would pose a threat to the team’s safety. But one look into the dog’s eyes and it was clear to the investigators that they couldn’t leave her behind.
When the slaughterman was killing the other dogs, her eyes begged me to get her out of there. We gained the trust of the workers…and managed to smuggle [her] out with us.One of rescuers
The investigators safely rescued the dog, though it broke their hearts to leave the others behind. They named her Vita, which means “life” in Italian—a fitting name for a dog who would go on to inspire so many with her resilience and spirit.
As soon as she arrived in Spain, it became clear why she sought out help from our investigators. She was carrying nine puppies, which she would give birth to a few days later. Vita and all nine of her puppies would go on to be adopted into loving homes. Though born into a world of suffering and cruelty, Vita and her puppies were given a chance at a better life thanks to the quick and brave actions of the investigators.
Vita’s story would go on to be told my mainstream media outlets around the world, ensuring the suffering of the dogs that had to be left behind was not in vain. Animal Equality investigated the dog and cat meat trade for eight years, going on to tell the stories of the nearly 10 million dogs and 4 million cats killed by the Chinese dog and cat meat and fur trade every year.
Uncovering the Truth About China’s Dog Meat Industry
The cat and dog meat trade is a global problem that affects China and other countries like South Korea and parts of Asia. It is not only a cultural practice, but also “celebrated” in festivals like the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival draws criticism from animal rights organizations and the general public from around the world. Since the festival originated in 2009, Yulin, which is an ancient city in China, celebrates the Summer Solstice from June 21st – June 29th. During the festival, thousands of dogs are slaughtered with as many as 10,000 dogs killed each year.
Animals are obtained illegally, snatched from their homes or the streets, and transported thousands of miles to their cruel fate. During transportation, they are deprived of food and water, crammed into cramped cages, and forced to endure unimaginable suffering. Some live out their days sick or injured before being killed, oftentimes while conscious.
Footage obtained by Animal Equality during our investigations has revealed the true extent of the industry’s cruelty:
Acknowledging Progress Towards a More Humane World
According to the Humane Society International, there have been some encouraging developments in China when it comes to the consumption of dog and cat meat. In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reclassified dogs as non-livestock animals, effectively making it illegal to breed and slaughter them for their meat.
In addition, in the same year, two major cities in mainland China, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai, banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, with support from the majority of Chinese citizens. These cities now join other places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines, as well as certain regions in Cambodia and Indonesia, that have already outlawed dog meat consumption.
Not all cultures in Asia take part in these traditions, and many people in these regions are also speaking out against the practice. Despite this progress, it’s still estimated that around 30 million dogs are killed for their meat in other parts of Asia every year.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is just one example of the ongoing issue of dog and cat meat trade in some parts of Asia and it serves as a potent symbol of the need for continued efforts to protect dogs and other animals from suffering.
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As loyal companions, dogs and cats have been beloved by humans for thousands of years.
Defend these ancient bonds by replacing animal products with plant‑based ones.
Vita is a symbol that reflects the power of love and compassion. Her rescue from a dog meat farm is a testament to the tireless efforts of animal rights activists and organizations like Animal Equality. As we celebrate her 10-year rescue anniversary, we honor her story and the stories of all the animals, including cows, pigs, and chickens, who suffer and are killed for their meat. We must continue to fight for their rights and advocate for an end to this inhumane industry. Every animal deserves to live a life free from suffering, and it is up to all of us to make that a reality.
Vita may have started her life in darkness, but she has shown us that there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow.