Dogs are beloved pets in western cultures. American dog owners often regard their canine companions as family. They've been consumed as food for centuries in eastern Asia.The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China opened Tuesday (June 21, running through June 30). The festival was first held in 2009. It's estimated 10,000-15,000 dogs will we slaughtered and eaten during that time, according to

As you, can imagine, the event has sparked more than a little controversy. The BBC reports, vendors claim the dogs are killed humanely. Critics claim they're killed publicly, beaten to death, even cooked alive. It's legal to sell dog meat for food in China. An estimated 10 million are  slaughtered annually. A recently released poll from indicates 64% of Chinese residents, ages 16-50 want the festival stopped. Nearly 52% want the dog meat trade eliminated entirely.