BEIJING (Reuters) - Animal rights activists calling for an end to the slaughter and eating of dogs at a Chinese festival delivered a petition with 11 million signatures to authorities in Beijing on Friday.

The two dozen activists were accompanied by dogs and unveiled banners with pictures of the animals above the message "I'm not your dinner" as they presented the petition at the representative office of Yulin city, where the festival is held.

The annual festival, which is set to begin on June 21, sees residents of the southern city consume dog meat with thousands of dogs expected to be slaughtered.

Supporters of the festival say dog meat is good for your health at the hottest time of the year and eating the animals is no different from consuming any other meat.

But pictures of caged or slaughtered dogs posted online have outraged many people, with domestic and international organizations behind the petition calling for the festival to be stopped.

The campaign against the festival has received celebrity backing from British comedian Ricky Gervais and U.S. actor Ian Somerhalder.

In 2014, the Yulin government distanced itself from the festival, saying it was staged by private business people and did not have official backing.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by Patrick Johnston)