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Horrifying Images Of Dogs Destined For Slaughter At Yulin Emerge

Animal groups managed to rescue 135 dogs ahead of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.

WARNING: Graphic images.

More than a hundred "terrified" dogs have been rescued from certain death by animal rights groups in China, ahead of the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

Chinese activists negotiated the release of 135 dogs from three facilities in Yulin, in China's Guangxi region.

Mobile phone footage taken by the activists shows the dogs -- mostly smaller breeds preferred by dog traders -- huddled in small, filthy rooms, with traces of blood from earlier slaughters.

"What I saw will haunt me for months, I have never seen dogs so scared like these ones," one of the activists, known only as Allen, told the Humane Society International (HSI).

"The slaughterhouse was utterly filthy, the floor covered in blood and faeces, and the air oppressively offensive.

"The noise of that slaughterhouse stuck in our brain long after we'd left -- the wailing of the dogs, the roar of the blow torch, the thundering of the de-hairing machine while dogs huddled together in fear. We were so anxious to get the dogs away from that hellish place."

Images of the blowtorch being used on dogs and the 'de-hairing' machine were captured by activists.

There were three groups involved, one of which is HSI's Chinese partner group. The other two did not want to be named.

Most of the dogs rescued were suffering from malnutrition, shock and painful skin diseases, said Dr Peter Li, HSI's China policy specialist. Three of the dogs were heavily pregnant, and gave birth shortly after being resettled at the shelter.

A photo surreptitiously captured by activists. Supplied.

The rescue operation follows calls from more than 87 Chinese animal protection groups to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which has been running since 2010.  More than 235,000 people signed a letter asking authorities to end the "gruesome" festival, which contributes to the slaughter of thousands of dogs and cats each year.

"Yulin, like all of China's dog meat trade, would not exist without crime," HSI's spokesperson Wendy Higgins told ten daily.

Most of the animals are stolen; they are either pets taken from people's backyards, or simply picked up off the street. They are then driven for hours, if not days, across multiple provinces in cruel conditions. Some suffocate, others are soaked in urine and faeces, and still more are injured either from the wire cages or other, terrified dogs, or both.

"The suffering and abuse the animals endure is unspeakable, for a meat that only about 20 percent of Chinese people ever eat," said Higgins.

The festival is due to take place from June 21, but animal groups are asking authorities to crack down ahead of time.