May 18 (UPI) -- Dog meat sales have been banned at China's annual Yulin festival in June and traders could face fines of more than $10,000 for breaking the new rules.
Animal rights activists with the Duo Duo Project and Humane Society International say they have confirmation from Chinese campaigners and traders at Yulin's dog meat market the local government has rolled out a ban affecting restaurants, street vendors and market traders.
Dog meat sales are prohibited a week before June 21, when the festival begins, and violators would face fines of $15,000, according to the activists.
But local sources suggest the ban is not being communicated, raising questions about whether the campaign to end the mass slaughter of dogs is succeeding.
A Chinese restaurateur in Yulin identified as Ms. Tan by Time told the magazine she had not heard of any government announcements on a dog meat ban.
"Eating dog has been Yulin people's tradition for quite a long time...I haven't heard our government will stop the festival, or stop the selling of dog meat," she said.
According to international animal rights activists, Mo Gongming, a new Chinese Communist Party secretary in the southern Chinese city, has made the ban public.
Duo Duo and HSI described the measure as a "milestone victory in the ongoing campaign to end mass dog and cat slaughter at Yulin," and "evidence of growing political will inside China to clamp down on trade."
Activists still fear countless numbers of dogs and cats will be killed before the ban goes into effect.
The dog meat trade in China is responsible for the theft of pets in the country.
Health concerns also abound with regard to dog meat consumption, as China has the second-highest number of reported rabies cases in the world, according to the World Health Organization.