Every year on June 21, Yulin in Guangxi, China, celebrates its "Summer Solstice Dog Meat Festival." The tradition, which started in 2000 by meat traders, leads to the slaughter, cooking and eating of thousands of dogs. As the festival draws nearer, animal activist groups around the world have asked the Chinese government to end this practice once and for all.

On Twitter, the hashtag #StopYulin2015 has been regularly posted and shared by users since May. The tweets, which come from animal lovers in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, already number close to a quarter million, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, an animal rights group based in California, the Duo Duo Welfare Project, set up a petition on Change.org addressed to Chen Wu, the governor of Yulin City, and other top-ranking officials. As of press time, the petition had almost 320,000 supporters requesting the Chinese government put a stop to this disgraceful act. "The event has already tarnished the reputation of Guangxi and will have a negative consequence on commerce and on the tourism industry," stated the petition.

The same group also launched a campaign on YouTube, with views close to 200,000. The video states that the dogs massacred at this festival are mostly stolen and "sold by thieves for easy money."

Several groups and pages urging to stop the festivities have also been set up on Facebook, such as Stop Yulin Dog & Cat Meat Festival 2015, with almost 26,000 followers.

Even British actor Ricky Gervais, a well-known animal lover, is rallying against Yulin's practice. "My friends at Humane Society International are working tirelessly to end this cruel trade all over Asia, and they desperately need your help. I've seen the footage that HSI has captured on video, and it breaks my heart. I will never forget the look of bewilderment and fear on the faces of these poor animals—the dogs and cats await a horrible fate. No animal deserves to be treated like this," said Gervais via Humane Society International.

Supposedly, the government of Yulin said that no such festival will take place this year, but Peter Li from the Humane Society said, "This is mere semantics and thousands of dogs will still die for their meat whether it's called a festival or not," according to Consumer Affairs.