The Yulin dog meat festival, held in June, originated in Guangxi Zhuang region’s Yulin prefecture.
The festival, which involves killing of 10,000 dogs for human consumption, falls on Sunday this year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar.
Over the years, the festival has become a point of debate. Outrage on social media over this year’s festival is unprecedented, the Global Times reported.
Over 2.3 million users have posted messages to oppose the practice on Twitter and China’s microblogging website Sina Weibo.
On Twitter, thousands of tweets bearing the hashtag “#StopYuLin2015”, were posted every hour, with many users calling on their followers to sign a petition to stop the festival.
#Yulindogmeatfestival was used in more than 3,50,000 posts, making it the highest-trending hashtag on the issue.
Data revealed by search engine “Baidu” suggested a decline in interest in the festival. Searches for “dog meat” over the week had dropped 38 percent year on year, while “dog meat festival” had 57 percent less searches.
According to Chinese lore, eating dog meat stimulates internal heat, making it a food that wards off winter cold.
But on this inaugural day of summer, it’s a superstition that is driving dog consumption, as the meat is being said to bring good luck and health.
While preparing for the festival, dogs are transported from every corner of China. Some dogs die on the way while being carried on truck. Many suffer such horrendous injuries that they cannot stand in the filthy pens they are transferred to.
The surviving dogs are clubbed over the head and have their throats cut open before being thrown into the boiling water. The butcher then plucks all the hair, removes all the organs and puts the dog on the grill.
On Thursday, the Yulin government reiterated that it did not support the “so-called festival” and promised to come down hard on anyone caught stealing or poisoning dogs.