Thousands of cats and dogs have been slaughtered at the Yulin Festival despite government promises to end the practice, which has been condemned internationally on grounds of animal cruelty.
Amid the slaughter, animal activists arrived with cash, saving hundreds of dogs and cats from certain death.
Local authorities failed to honour pledges to ban the festival following an online petition signed by half a million people.
Actor Ricky Gervais and singer Leona Lewis have denounced the festival, where animals are kept dozens to a cage before being electrocuted, burned and skinned alive.
On Sunday, campaigners blockaded streets, raided slaughterhouses and bought animals in an attempt to save them.
“Workers were blow-torching the carcasses to make them shiny and ready for shipment to restaurants,” said Peter Li, a campaigner for the Humane Society China.