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Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix appear in animal rights campaign PSA

Matt Damon, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Mara, and Rooney Mara have teamed up to throw their support behind an animal rights campaign.

The actors are working with Marc Ching, the founder of the Animal Wellness Project, in a bid to raise awareness about and help stop the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.


"This isn't about being American, this isn't about being an Asian... this isn't about being a Canadian or about being British, this is about being human," the celebrities say in the public service announcement. They go on to call for a stop to the torture and violence towards dogs in Asia.


"This is built upon the belief that if you torture or abuse the animal, it makes the meat taste better or that it gives a health benefit to who eats it," Ching adds in the PSA. "Whether or not you think it is something to be eaten or on the menu, cruelty and torture and violence is wrong."


The Yulin Dog Festival began in 2010. It is slated to kick-off on Tuesday (21Jun16). Earlier this week (ends19Jun16), China policy specialist for the Humane Society International Peter Li and volunteers for the organization helped to rescue 34 animals from cages in the country.


"The police presence is heavy in Yulin right now, and the atmosphere is very tense, so this was not an easy rescue," a statement from Li reads. "But we were determined to save animals from their gruesome fate at Yulin, and it was such a relief to leave the slaughterhouse cages empty for one day at least. The dogs and cats were clearly afraid, especially the older dogs who looked very fearful. But once they realized we weren't there to hurt them, but in fact we would make their suffering stop at last, they very quickly responded with licks and wagging tails.


"It's shocking to think that if we had not been there, all these animals would have been beaten to death and eaten."