HANGZHOU, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A dog-eating carnival that derived from a 600-year-old tradition in an east China township has been banned following a wave of public fury, said an official Wednesday.
The government stopped the dog-eating carnival held in every October in Qianxi Township, Jinhua City in Zhejiang Province due to resentment voiced on the Internet as well as increasing discontent among villagers, said Zhang Jianhong, a township official.
Dogs are slaughtered and skinned in the streets in recent years in Qianxi when an annual commodity fair is held in October, which sparked fierce condemnation after the cruelty was exposed online prior to this year's event.
The tradition of eating dog meat among local people traced to more than 600 years ago.
A folklore goes that dogs in Qianxi were secretly killed by the troops of Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), before they seized the town as the barks would expose their every attempt of maneuver.
After the conquest, dog meat was served at the feast of victory celebration, and thereafter local people began to eat dog meat as a special snack during a temple fair held at a shrine for the emperor and his empress.
The ancient fair was replaced by a modern commodity fair in the 1980s, but dog-eating has been kept as a tradition.
However, vendors began to butcher dogs in public a few years ago to show their dog meat is fresh and safe, as a way to ease buyers' worry that the meat may be refrigerator-preserved or even contaminated.
Hundreds of thousands of netizens posted criticisms of the carnival on forums and social networking sites, slamming the tradition and calling on the local government to intervene.
Ninety one percent of over 12,000 users said "No" to the carnival in a vote on Weibo.com, a popular microblogging site in China.
Later, netizens cheered on the government's subsequent ban on the carnival.
"The government's quick response should be encouraged. I hope eating dogs will not be a custom there anymore. It's not a carnival, but a massacre," wrote Junchangzai, a Weibo user who launched an online campaign denouncing the dog-eating carnival. His posts were retweeted over 100,000 times.
The Qianjiang Evening News, an influential newspaper in Zhejiang, reported that most local villagers also opposed the carnival, citing a survey administered by the local government.
However, some villagers questioned the legitimacy of the ban on a folk custom.
"It's our tradition, which the government has no right to ban. The dog-eating carnival is like the Spring Festival to me," a villager told the newspaper.
The government respected people's customs, but it should also guide their conducts, Zhang said.
Several high-profile dog protection events have made headlines in China this year. Animal protection volunteers intercepted a truck with 520 dogs on an expressway in April, and public backlash forced a city in southern China to abolish a ban on dogs as pets in August.