Southern China has always had a tradition of dining on dogs—people from other parts of the country even joke that Southerners will eat anything with legs but the dinner table. But despite becoming more prosperous in the 1990s, Yulin has maintained the unique tradition of holding a canine banquet every summer.
Animal rights activists across China and the rest of the globe have increasingly condemned the Dog Meat Festival, calling for an immediate stop to eating man’s best friend. They say the dog meat trade is illegal, unregulated, and cruel. Many claim that numerous dogs that end up in cooking pots are stolen pets or diseased strays.
In 2013, the Yulin festival gathered so much negative press that this year, the local government denied the Summer Solstice dog-eating tradition ever even existed. But that hasn’t stopped locals from celebrating—nor has it stopped die-hard activists from flooding the town to try to rescue dogs before the slaughter.
VICE Reports headed to Yulin this year to get to the bottom of the most controversial festival in China.