The largest ever petition to end China’s annual Yulin dog meat festival – which has amassed more than 11 million signatures – has been handed in to the Chinese Embassy in London by celebrities, MPs and animal campaigners from Humane Society International, RaiseUrPaw, Duo Duo Project, and petition sites Care2 and Avaaz.

Carrie Fisher, who attended with her dog Garry, said: “There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end. But stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy. All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops. These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary, every one of them is someone’s best friend.”

More than 10 million dogs are killed every year across China for their meat, with thousands set to die for the annual dog meat festival in Yulin on June 21st. Most of the dogs are stolen pets and strays grabbed from the streets still wearing their collars when they reach the slaughterhouse where they are typically beaten to death. Most people in China don’t eat dogs, and pet owners and dog thieves have had numerous violent clashes.

Singer Sandi Thom said: “I feel so passionate about this issue. Once these poor dogs fall into the hands of the meat traders, they have absolutely no-one but us to speak up for them. How can we be silent in the face of such blatant cruelty?”

Chinese animal campaigners who vehemently oppose the Yulin dog meat festival, and who initiate protests and dog rescues all year round, have warmly welcomed the 11 million-signature petition. In the last few weeks alone, activists from China Animal Protection Power, set up with the help of Humane Society International, have rescued some 500 dogs from trucks headed for slaughter. Many of the dogs were pure breeds such as golden retrievers and huskies who were still wearing their pet collars.

Lucy Watson attended the petition hand-in with her German Spitz Klein dog, Digby. Lucy said: “No animal deserves to be abused and mutilated the way the dogs in the meat festival are and to think that could be my best friend, Digby, is unbearable.”

On June 10th HSI takes the petition to Beijing for a hand in at the Yulin government office, and from there they will head to Yulin to shine a global spotlight on the suffering and to rescue dogs wherever they can.

Five facts about the Yulin dog meat festival:
1. It’s not a traditional festival, it was only invented in 2010 by dog traders to boost profits
2. Before the festival started, Yulin had no history of mass dog slaughter and consumption
3. Every year, 30 million dogs are killed across Asia for their meat, some 10-20 million in China alone, and thousands die just for Yulin
4. The World Health Organisation warns that the dog trade spreads rabies and increases the risk of cholera 20-fold
5. Dog meat is eaten by no more than 20 per cent of the Chinese population

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