THE DOG BUTCHERS OF CHINA
It was still early when I navigated the streets of Yangshuo’s central market, by the time I arrived at the main entrance there was already a hive of activity. Streams of old women were busy unloading an array of unusual looking fruits and vegetables from waiting trucks. Scurrying between the trucks and the market they quickly carried large sacks over their shoulders as the men looked on and chatted amongst themselves. An exciting crowd cheered and shouted at a man who hung off the back of a flat bed truck. Fists full of money raise out of the crowd an into the air whenever this man holds up a sack. Snatching the notes from the closest person he quickly forces a large netted sack into the empty hands. Pushing and shoving, a man exits the crowd with a beam of excitement. He quickly skips passed me whilst swinging two ginormous green turtles around like a yo-yo. I knew this market was going to be like nothing I had ever seen before.
“before whacking it several times with a large brick…“
On entering the central market the first thing that hit me was the potent smell of rotting vegetables which drifted and lingered in the moist air. Walking passed the endless rows of stacked vegetables that had been laid out on tables in military precision. The amount of people who were were asleep, whist the rest were fiddling with their phone, putting makeup on, or lighting up endless cigarettes. I stopped by a adorable old lady who was selling all manner of reptiles which I at first I thought she was selling as pets, how wrong I was. I watched as she loaded a sack full of croaking frogs into a bag before whacking it several times with a large brick before handing it over to a waiting customer. The croaking stopped abruptly after that.
Transitioning into the second area of the market I could immediately tell i was walking into an enormous butchers. There was a constant reverberating noise of hundreds of busy meat cleavers being rained down on piles of freshly cut meat. The first thing I stumbled on was watching a goat being butchered. The whole practice took no less than three minutes. Every part of the goat was chopped up into bite-size chunks, rolled up into sheets of newspaper and sold off to hungry locals. Nothing went to waste, even the brain was purchased by some lucky bastard.
“…which lead me to believe that some of these dogs weren’t bred for their meat and had been stolen.“
In the corner of the room I finally get a glimpse of what my curiosity had brought me here for. The Dog Butchers of China. Strung up on meat hooks were rows of dead dogs, each carcass seem to be of a different breed. I spied dozens of small cages stacked on top of each other, crammed full of various breeds of dogs. I saw what I believed to be mature greyhounds. There was also a doe eyed looking Golden Labrador which was jammed into a cage that was far too small for it. I also saw what looked to me like a Weimaraner, which led me to believe that many of these dogs weren’t bred for their meat and had been stolen. No barking, no noise, all these dogs could do was shake uncontrollably as they waited for their fate.
Opening one of the cages a butcher tries to beckon on of the dogs out. It’s a small stocky type of dog, short grey fur with a pink belly, it has the face of a pitbull mix. It doesn’t want to exit the cage so it’s grabs by the scruff of it’s neck and drags it on to the floor. In one split moment it’s gone from the terrified animal to a growling beast fighting for it’s life. It lunges at the face of the butcher several times before getting flipped on to its back. Kneeling on the dogs chest which causes it to squeal in pain, the butcher takes one large knife and pummels it into the chest of the dog. One last shriek of pain and snap of the jaws the dogs body is lifeless. It’s dragged over to the corner by another man who proceeds to gut the animal. The smell of burning fur engulfs the area as a blowtorch is used to remove the fur quickly from its body, it now doesn’t even look like a dog, it looks like every other animal which has gone through the same slaughter. Like clockwork, blow by blow, another man armed with a meat cleaver goes to work on the dog, chopping the caucus into manageable size pieces, before handing the meat over to another waiting customer.
What a contrast shopping for meat is back home, gone are perfectly wrapped filet Mignon steaks and the steroid induced chicken breasts. Most of our western society is so removed from the actual process of meat we forget we’re actually eating animals to start with. Here, in this market, the whole grizzly process is on display for anyone with a strong stomach. Though it’s upsetting watching an animal being slaughtered, I would feel like a hypocrite to jump on my high horse and condemn the Chinese for eating dog. We Europeans and Americans have no qualms about tucking into a juicy piece of lamb or Veal. No, what upset me the most were the inhumane conditions these poor dogs had to endure during their final days left alive. No living creature deserves that.