Each year as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for a barbaric Yulin festival, held in the rural and poor Guangxi province in China.
The animals, most stolen as pets or strays from the street, are killed for their meat to mark the summer solstice.
The dogs are kept in tightly packed cages to be sold at the carnival, and although hundreds of dogs have been saved by animal rights activists but thousands are still expected to be killed.
Outraged campaigners and locals have been going there to buy dogs and save them from certain death; according to National Post, a 65-year-old woman spent the equivalent of $1400 to save 100 dogs.
Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty at the Humane Society International told the Daily Mail: “We’ve seen all manner of dog breeds coming in to the rescue shelters, some of them obviously someone’s pet because they still have their collars on with their names.
“We know that these are only a small number compared to the thousands who have already suffered and died, but every life saved is precious.”
He said there is a “real divide” in the region between the older generation who value their long-standing tradition, and the younger generation who want it to stop.
The petition to stop the festival on change.org, has hit over 4 million signatures with celebrities like Simon Cowell, Ricky Gervais and Rita Ora getting behind the movement.
Comedian Gervais slammed the practice as a “Dog Torture Festival” over his Twitter account, and Cowell urged his 12.1 million Twitter followers to sign the petition, calling it “barbaric”.