In recent weeks social media has been set on fire with horrific images of dogs being kidnapped and tortured in preparation for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in Southern China.
The festival, which occurs annually during the summer solstice, has faced increasing criticism from activists who say the event is cruel and the #StopYulin2015 hashtag was trending last week after comedian Ricky Gervis and other celebrities joined the animal rights bandwagon to shame what many were calling "A festival of cruelty".
But not everyone in China supports the practise.
In a bid to rescue some of the estimated 10,000 dogs at risk of becoming dinner at the event Yang Xiaoyun, a 65-year-old retired school teacher, was photographed rescuing the dogs in cages – many obviously kidnapped pets as they still had their collars on.
Xiaoyun reportedly runs an animal shelter in Tianjin and travelled more than 2,400 km and paid for dogs at the festival to save some dogs from certain death.
Speaking to the Mail Online she said meat vendors recognise her at the festival and jack their prices up, threatening to brutally harm the dogs if she won't pay.
“When I returned to the market the vendors surrounded me, mocking me and asking, 'How much money did you bring this time?’” she recalled.
Ms Yang said the animals at the festival were killed in unspeakably cruel ways, some reportedly even blowtorched alive. “The market was blanketed by blood,” she said.
Parts of China have long-standing traditions surrounding the consumption of dog meat but the Humane Society International claims many of these animals destined for Yulin are skinned, burned and boiled alive for taste reasons and the organisation is begging animal lovers to put pressure on local authorities to stop the barbaric practise.
China expert and British Mail Online contributor Peter Li went undercover to Yulin in May and witnessed festival in preparation full swing for 2015.
He described one slaughterhouse as being "full of blood, internal organs of the dogs and cats, blow torched carcasses, and freshly slaughtered dogs hanging on hooks".
"Mass dog slaughter is still going on at Yulin despite the local authorities trying to give the impression that's it's ended," Mr Li told the British MailOnline.
"The Yulin government has declared the 'festival' will not happen, but this is mere semantics and thousands of dogs will still die for their meat whether it's called a festival or not."
See the photographs of Yang Xiaoyun rescuing some of her new furry refugees.
Visit the Humane Society International for more information.
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