I was aware that some Chinese people ate dogs. These people are mainly to be found in the south, traditionally, the poorer, more rural areas of China. In a recent survey done by the China Post, it was found that 45% of Chinese people between the ages of 18-30 would eat dog. 20% were “apathetic”.
Cursing our Western squeamish sensitivities, we braved a market hall in Yangshuo. The sight was shocking. Dogs stuffed five to a cage housed with cats and looking out at us with big brown eyes. Knowing eyes. What was worse, is that these weren’t even the scrawny, mangy looking creatures you see skulking around at traffic lights. These were dogs that if in Britain, would be feature stars in Iams dog food commercials: shaggy white coats, intelligent border-collie eyes and wet noses. These dogs lacked gleam; it was as if they knew their fate and were just waiting, patiently. Man’s best friend.
It was when I saw a woman my age, carrying the lifeless form of a cute miniature poodle under her arm down a backstreet that it suddenly struck me how just how widely practised eating dog was.
“Oh all the dogs you see running around the streets here, they’re going to end up in the pot,” said our English/Chinese hostel owner. “They’re trying to keep it on the down-low, but it’s a big thing here.”
“They even host the annual dog meat festival fair here.” said the Man, rubbing the belly of his docile, sleepy Golden retriever Fifo. Fifo’s back leg was bloody.
“What happened to her leg?”
“Her last owner dangled her over the motorbike and it got caught in the wheel. We rescued her. The vet wanted to chop her leg off but I was convinced it could be mended.”
I looked at the dog and her eyes, sleepy in the afternoon heat, looked back at me. I think we were both thinking the same thing. Thank God they rescued this dog because it was probably on the way to the slaughterhouse.