The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation is trying to save animals before the festival begins June 21
Credit: Source: Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation/YouTube

Every year, thousands of dogs are stolen, kept in tiny cages and then slaughtered for consumption for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, according to a new PSA. Celebrities like Matt Damon, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Mara, Rooney Mara and many more are speaking out to stop the cruelty.

The celebrities teamed up with Marc Ching, the founder of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation who is on the ground in China trying to save dogs by the hundreds before the festival begins on June 21.

“This is built upon the belief that if you torture or abuse the animal, it makes the meat taste better or that it gives health benefit to who eats it,” Ching explains in the PSA. “Whether or not you think it is something to be eaten or on the menu, cruelty and torture and violence is wrong.”

Many celebrities have used their star power to speak out against the annual dog meat festival. In May, Ricky Gervais tweeted a photo of himself kissing a puppy, asking followers to sign a petition against the festival to end.

The Humane Society International saved 29 dogs and five cats from a slaughterhouse in Yulin this week, just days before the festival is scheduled to begin.

Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist, led the rescue operation and said in a statement, “The police presence is heavy in Yulin right now, and the atmosphere is very tense, so this was not an easy rescue. But we were determined to save animals from their gruesome fate at Yulin, and it was such a relief to leave the slaughterhouse cages empty for one day at least. The dogs and cats were clearly afraid, especially the older dogs who looked very fearful. But once they realized we weren t there to hurt them, but in fact we would make their suffering stop at last, they very quickly responded with licks and wagging tails. It’s shocking to think that if we had not been there, all these animals would have been beaten to death and eaten.”

The 34 lucky animals have all been transported to a shelter where they are receiving veterinary care and getting ready for adoption.

The Yulin Dog Meat Festival began in 2010 as a way to boost the area’s dog meat trade. Prior to the festival, the city did not have a history of consuming the animal.