Ricky Gervais is urging his fans to shut down the dog meat trade in China.

The 53-year-old comic star is backing a campaign by the Humane Society International (HSI), which is working with approximately 35 Chinese animal welfare groups and hundreds of animal campaigners across the Far East country, to protest against China's dog meat trade and sponsored a number of candlelit vigils in Tianjin, Beijing and Dalian against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

Gervais wants people all over the world to sign a petition to stop the trade, saying: ''My friends at Humane Society International (HSI) are working tirelessly to end this cruel trade all over Asia, and they desperately need your help.''

Despite officials denying that the event will happen, last month HSI secretly filmed preparations for the slaughter of up to 10,000 dogs that is due to take place next Monday (22.06.15) and managed to rescue two cats and dogs in the undercover operation - one of which they named 'Little Ricky'.

Gervais added: ''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.''

Up to 10 million dogs are believed to be killed for their meat in China every year and it is often wrongly assumed to be a Chinese tradition.

However the trade has become increasingly unacceptable and in 2011 a dog meat festival in Zhejiang's Jinghua was shut down as a result of a similar campaign.

Today (15.06.15), Gervais took to his Twitter account to document the abuse dogs suffer when being captured and cooked to satisfy diners.

In a series of tweets, he wrote: ''Please help stop the #YulinDogMeatFestival ... Will smug idiots stop asking why it's worse to eat dogs than cows. In principle it isn't. But in this case they torture the dogs first ... They believe torturing the dog makes the meat tastier. They beat them, burn them, skin & boil them alive! Disgusting sub human ***** ... They steal people's pets to torture & eat. What would you do to someone who you caught torturing your dog? I hope you'd stop them somehow ... #StopYuLin2015 (sic)''