RSPCA works with Chinese authorities to bring about change for animals

Every summer, thousands of dogs and cats are slaughtered for meat in the Chinese town of Yulin.

Animal welfare organisations and groups from around the world have joined together to oppose the event. But to bring about change in the fourth largest country in the world – with a population of more than 1.3bn – takes years of work and engagement at the highest level.

The RSPCA has spent almost 200 years working tirelessly in England and Wales to improve the lives of animals, both wild and domesticated. And the animal welfare charity, the largest and oldest in the world, has also been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work in other countries to improve welfare for animals internationally.

China is one of the countries where officials have actively sought engagement with the RSPCA as they seek to bring about cultural and legislative changes to benefit animal welfare.

For more than eight years, the RSPCA’s international team has been closely involved in the development and promotion of China's draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Although the law has yet to be passed, its circulation as a draft is having a significant impact in stimulating discussion of animal cruelty.

The RSPCA’s head of international, Paul Littlefair, said: “Until China passes animal protection law, no animals are protected from the kind of cruelty that we see at festivals such as Yulin. The RSPCA is playing a leading role in addressing this.

“Since 2008, we have been working very closely with the authorities in China, and with other Chinese and international animal welfare organisations, to draw up the country’s first anti-cruelty legislation.”

The RSPCA has also invested in an education programme (pictured above and below) which uses animal themes to promote concepts such as respect for life, kindness, empathy and good citizenship. These are exactly the values that the Chinese leadership and the education authorities are keen to strengthen.

“A change in the law can only come about with broad popular support. By working through this programme with our Chinese partners to change attitudes, we can we be confident that China will soon be at the point where most people accept that the treatment of animals matters, and that laws are needed to prevent cruelty,” added Paul.

The programme has, so far, involved 300 Chinese school heads and teachers. Through their work across China it is believed they have reached around 500,000 children.

The RSPCA is deeply concerned about the lack of legislation to protect animals in China, and also strongly objects to the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and to similar events which take place elsewhere.

The charity is an active member of the Asia for Animals (AfA) Coalition – made up of 16 charities and organisations* from around the world – which has written to the authorities to protest against the Yulin festival, and the cruelty involved.

The RSPCA’s international team knows that, as well as opposing individual events, work to make a long-term change to legislation and public attitudes is the way to secure better animal welfare for the future of China.

Paul added: “It’s a big project and it’s been going on for a long time, but we are in it for the long haul.”

To help the RSPCA improve animal welfare around the world, text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

Notes to editors
For further information about the RSPCA’s international work, please contact the press office by calling 0300 123 0244 or email

* Other Asia for Animals members are: Animal Guardians, Animal People, Animals Asia Foundation, ACRES, Blue Cross of India, Change for Animals Foundation, Earth Island Institute, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, SPCA Hong Kong, SPCA Sarawak, World Animal Protection.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
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