YULIN, China, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A group of veterinarians and lawyers are asking officials in Yulin, China, to end the annual dog meat festival due to rabies concerns.
The group of seven experts in the fields of veterinary medicine, law and animal welfare wrote to Yulin officials asking them to bring an end to the controversial event because the long-range transport of canines for the festival each year contributes to the spread of rabies.
"Transporting and butchering so many dogs, if they haven't had the rabies vaccine, will pose a certain risk to those who do the job," the experts wrote.
The letter also said the festival raises food safety concerns from the unclear sourcing of the dogs slaughtered each year.
The festival takes place on June 21 each year to mark the summer solstice. More than 10,000 dogs were estimated to have been slaughtered for the event in previous years, but the number dropped to an estimated 2,000 this year due in part to protests from dog lovers and animal rights activists.