Dozens of dogs rescued from a controversial dog-eating festival in China are getting a second chance in South Florida.
Good Karma Pet Rescue in Fort Lauderdale says the dogs were intercepted before the annual 10-day Yulin Dog Meat Festival, in which it's believed some 10,000 dogs are slaughtered and eaten.
The group brought a total of 36 dogs to South Florida. They enjoyed a spa day Wednesday with students at the Merryfield School of Pet Grooming as the group works to find them forever homes.
"Some of these dogs have never played with a toy, they've never touched grass before and they've certainly never had a spa day so we're happy to be able to make this partnership and make these dogs feel really good today because they've probably never had a good bath or a groom in their lives," said Devon Soto, with Good Karma.
Many of the dogs already have applications from families ready to welcome them, but some are still up for adoption.
"They should hate people and they don't and it's so wonderful that we can get them homes now because that's what we do, that's what Good Karma does, we find homes for these great little lives," Good Karma's Deb Griffith said.
For more information on the dogs, visit goodkarmapetrescue.org.
The controversial Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, otherwise known as the Yulin Dog Festival, is a fairly new tradition in southern China to celebrate the start of the summer solstice, though dog-meat consumption has taken place in throughout regions of Asia for thousands of years.
Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism. Opponents say the festival is cruel and has no redeeming cultural value.
An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China, and the Yulin event has become a lightning rod for criticism.
Many of the dogs are believed to have been pets stolen from their owners or simply picked up off the street. They are stuffed in cages, and trucked to the city about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) south of Beijing in the province of Guangxi, often without food or water.
Cats eaten at the festival are subjected to similar ill treatment.
The local government has in recent years sought to disassociate itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.