BEIJING – A six-century-old Chinese tradition of dog eating collided this week with modern concepts about animal rights, and this time, modernity won.

Local authorities canceled a three-day festival that had been planned for Oct. 18 in Jinhua City, Zhejiang province, after tens of thousands of people who organized over the Internet complained.

The festival was part of a local tradition dating back to 1389, when, legend has it, a Ming dynasty military hero who was trying to capture Jinhua decided to kill all the dogs so they wouldn’t bark and disrupt his invasion.

“True, it was part of our cultural history, but not all culture should be inherited,” said Chen Manhong, director of the Small Animal Protection Society Rescue in nearby Hangzhou. “Women used to have their feet bound but we don’t do that anymore.”

Activists said 5,000 to 10,000 dogs would be butchered for the festival without regard to their suffering. Photographs and graphic accounts of the slaughter have circulated for the last few weeks over the Internet, with tens of thousands of people expressing outrage.