The Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China is illegal and should be banned, a group of animal rights campaigners have said.
On 21 June, around 10,000 dogs will be eaten by people in Yulin, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Dogs are cooked in a hotpot and eaten, while strong liquor is drunk by locals celebrating the tradition.
However, over 40 experts including lawyers, animal rights activists and professors have said the festival not only damages China's image but is illegal and should be banned.
According to China's Xinhua news agency, lawyer Li Weimin said most of the dog meat being bought and sold at the festival is from the black market.
It is thought most dogs are pets or strays abducted from streets. Vendors then buy them for around nine yuan (85p) and sold for 25 yuan. People who steal the dogs make the biggest profits of all, the news agency said.
"Some of the animal thieves broke Criminal Law using weapons to threaten residents to hand over their dogs," Li said.
Animal rights lawyer An Ziang said there are no dog farms or legal slaughter houses. The experts say trades related to dog meat are illegal.
"We can clearly see rules on raising animals like pigs and producing their meat in the laws, but we haven't seen any on dogs," An said.
While a quarantine regulation on dogs and cats was introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture last year, meaning all cats and dogs had to be quarantined before transport, this is rarely observed, he added.
Li said there were no dog farms or slaughter houses that safely produce dog meat: "I was told there are four major workshops that produce dog meat in the city. I visited them and found all of them had no business licences or certificates."
Medical staff have been banned from attending the dog meat festival by health authorities from three local hospitals: "According to the directive issued by higher authorities, hospital staff are prohibited from having dog meat at food stalls, restaurants or hotels in Yudong and Fumian districts," the notice read.
According to South Morning China Post, local restaurants have been ordered to cover the word, dog, on signs to appease protestors: "Food safety authorities told us to change our signboards due to the objection of certain dog lovers," staff members reportedly said.