Shocking new footage of dogs and cats being bludgeoned over the head and blow-torched whilst still alive at an ‘extreme’ market in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province has prompted campaigners from the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition to urge the Indonesian government to keep its promise to ban the island's brutal dog and cat meat trade. The DMFI comprises local and international groups Animal Friends Jogja, Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Change For Animals Foundation, Humane Society International and Four Paws.
The treatment of animals filmed by DMFI is not only extremely brutal, but also flouts public health and safety regulations designed to protect citizens from deadly rabies transmission and the spread of zoonotic diseases. Despite the national government’s Director of Veterinary Public Health, Mr Syamsul Ma'arif, making a groundbreaking and progressive public pledge last month to end the trade which he called 'torture for animals', DMFI’s new footage shows that markets in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, are continuing to slaughter thousands of dogs and cats every week and sell the meat for human consumption.
“Every single dog and cat we saw at Tomohon extreme market was blowtorched whilst clearly still alive. It was the most horrific cruelty we have witnessed so far in our campaign to shut down this hideous trade, and it was all done in full view of very young children. By the end of our filming we were all spattered with blood and brain matter from the bludgeoning, showing how easy it would be for customers and tourists to become infected with diseases such as rabies, and in fact two of our team were extremely sick following the market visit. We are really grateful that the horrific cruelty and human-health risks of these appalling trades have been publicly recognised by the Indonesian government, but our latest evidence clearly shows that the need for an immediate ban cannot be ignored. This is an urgent situation requiring immediate action.”
Lola Webber, Dog Meat-Free Indonesia
Since its first in-depth investigations in December 2017, DMFI has gathered alarming evidence of animal cruelty and violent dog and cat theft which it has submitted to both central and provincial governments, including North Sulawesi. This has sparked both national and global outcry including a letter to President Joko Widodo calling for an immediate ban on the dog and cat meat trades signed by more than 90 Indonesian and international celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Islan, Dr Jane Goodall, Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres. DMFI’s global petition has also been signed by over 940,000 people from around the world.
In February this year, the Mayor of Tomohon’s office met with DMFI representatives and pledged to end the sale and slaughter of dogs and cats at Tomohon market and to work with the coalition to promote respect for animal welfare with the aim of ending the dog and cat meat trade in the city. However, DMFI’s latest video shows that it is business as usual at these barbaric markets.
There is also increasing concern among Indonesian citizens at the lack of action by law enforcement officials to deter or punish gangs of thieves who terrorise neighbourhoods and steal dogs and cats from back yards and houses. Jakarta Animal Aid Network says it receives countless reports each week from devastated pet owners who have had their dogs stolen by armed dog thieves.
The dog and cat meat trades in Indonesia also operate in breach of disease control regulations put in place to curb the spread of fatal zoonotic diseases such as rabies, despite the government’s pledge to eliminate the disease by 2020. Rabies is endemic in 25 out of 34 of Indonesia’s provinces, and dogs and cats of unknown disease status are routinely transported across provincial borders and islands and into densely-populated cities, in clear breach of the law, and threatening those cities and provinces – including Jakarta – that have worked so hard to secure their rabies-free status . With little sign of law enforcement action, the thieves and traders appear immune to punishment.
“As long as the dog and cat meat markets in North Sulawesi continue to drive the illegal trans-provincial trade into densely-populated cities, any attempts by Indonesia to secure its rabies-free status will fail. Millions of Indonesian citizens and global tourists could be at risk of exposure to diseases. It only takes one lick, scratch or bite from a rabies-infected animal to require prophylactic treatment for rabies which is otherwise a fatal disease.”
Dr Katherine Polak, FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in 12 countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au