In the current day, the dog meat trade is increasingly being faced with disapproval even in areas such as Yulin where the trade is most prominent, which is great news and a clear sign of progress. This is in large part thanks to younger generations. Young Chinese people are slowly becoming more aware of the perception of eating dog meat as an uncivilized habit, and as they learn about all the cruelty involved, more and more are actively choosing not to partake in it. From what we have seen on the ground this has had a direct effect on weakening the dog meat business in Yulin.
We all know that the youth decide the future, and we want to nurture, educate, and support the youth of Yulin to help put this deplorable trade to rest. With the economic hardships and high unemployment rate among youth increasing over this past year, we have unfortunately seen an unexpected spike in youth involvement in the dog meat trade, which is heartbreaking for us all. We know that they do not choose to be a part of this because they want to be. Our team on the ground in Yulin recently spoke to one young vendor (kept anonymous for his privacy), who told our team that he originally worked in the pork meat trade. Due to swine fever in recent years, he has had to shut shop - news which aligns with recent reports indicating that “as many as half of China’s breeding pigs have either died from African swine fever or been slaughtered because of the spreading disease”. The disease has swept through China’s agricultural sector and devastated livelihoods in rural economies, affecting an enormous 40 million pig farmers. With nowhere else to go, farmers like the young vendor we spoke to are sadly turning to the dog meat trade just to survive.
Many others are finding themselves in similar positions. Over the last few years, Duo Duo Executive Director Andrea Gung has visited Yulin 16 times, and over the course of her trips has spoken with many people who have turned to sell dog meat. Having spoken with one particular pair of older women, Duo Duo learned that one had a background in selling chicken, and another worked in clothing production. Both of these businesses regrettably failed. They came from backgrounds with little education and were unable to find well-paid jobs in Yulin. To put things in perspective, a McDonald’s Store Manager position in Yulin pays as little as $375USD/month. One of the women sadly shared how due to her work in the dog meat trade, her own son looked down on her - again, a devastating situation where vulnerable people experiencing economic hardship are driven to do work they don’t want to be doing, just to make a living.
This situation has created an urgency in Yulin for action on an individual income-based level. That’s why we have decided to prioritize the development of our long-planned Entrepreneurship Project; this will be a program that seeks to reward and help build platforms for young visionaries and innovators in Yulin, to educate and motivate them to be part of the rapidly growing pet industry in China. We are conscious of the pressure to have this set up quickly, before more displaced young people are forced to make the decision about whether to work in the dog meat trade - simply to make a living.
We recognize this is no small issue, and it is one we here at the Duo Duo Project are ready to face head-on.
Stay tuned to learn more about our plans, and we also would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.