It’s a video that’s almost impossible to watch, even for those of us who’ve gritted their teeth and endured hundreds of videos through the years that put some malevolent form of animal cruelty on a computer screen or television. The Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, which includes Humane Society International, gathered this latest horrific evidence as part of a strategy to change minds and hearts in Indonesia, and move the government to end the trade.
Lola Webber, the lead coordinator for DMFI, got behind the scenes at a “live” animal market in Indonesia where a macabre menagerie of dead wild animals such as snakes and bats are on display, while live dogs and cats are subjected to the worst ordeal we have yet seen in this trade. Crammed together in crates, they huddle in fear as their cage-mates are dragged out and killed. Their eyes are wide with terror, or, in other cases, their look is one of utter resignation, with deadened eyes and no movement. All they can do is wait for their turn before some unspeakable and unwatchable fate descends upon them from above.
These images are from the notorious “live” animal markets in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Workers butcher thousands of dogs and cats each year in open-air abattoirs, with the hapless animals pulled from a cage after surviving grueling journeys to the market, rough handling, and food and water deprivation. There’s not a whiff of concern for the welfare of these poor creatures.
Ms. Webber describes the experience as “walking through hell.”
One by one the dogs are yanked out of their cages, beaten over the head, and thrown to the ground as they writhe in agony. They are then blow-torched to remove their hair, a final torment that takes place whilst many are clearly still alive. Also shockingly, as our video shows, young children, possibly between two and 10 years old, watch as the animals are beaten to death.
The Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, launched in November last year, is a joint effort by Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Animals Friend Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation, and HSI. We have been raising public awareness through the campaign about the brutal trade and lobbying local and central governments to end it. We have also been working to focus the whole world’s eye on this trade in Indonesia, much as we have done in China and South Korea.
Indonesia’s dog meat trade is not a mainstream enterprise: it is estimated that less than seven percent of Indonesians consume dogs, and only a tiny fraction of Indonesians rely on this trade as a primary source of income. Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, with nearly 300 million people.
Investigations by Animal Friends Manado Indonesia estimate that 90 percent of the dogs sold at the market are stolen pets, or owned or street dogs. Some 80 percent of them are imported from other provinces, which is illegal under the country’s anti-rabies law forbidding the movement of dogs across provincial borders.
The trade is full of danger for humans as well: North Sulawesi province has some of the highest numbers of human deaths from rabies in Indonesia. The majority of these deaths occur in Minahasa Regency where there are several live animal markets, including Langowan Market, one of two markets where the video was filmed by our Dog Meat-Free Indonesia colleagues. The World Health Organization has identified Indonesia’s dog meat trade as a major contributor to the spread of rabies because of the unregulated transport of dogs between cities, provinces, and islands.
“These markets are open displays of the most wanton animal cruelty I have ever seen, but they also pose a serious risk to public health by routinely breaching Indonesia’s anti-rabies rules,” says Kelly O’Meara, HSI’s senior director of companion animals. “If Indonesia has any hope of achieving its goal to eliminate rabies by 2020, it needs to take urgent action to shut down these macabre markets.”
Dog Meat Free Indonesia investigators also found slaughtered wildlife on sale, including snakes like reticulated pythons, and bats.
Shockingly, these extreme markets are also promoted as tourist attractions by local authorities and tour operators. TripAdvisor took down a listing touting one of the markets as a “must see” after a complaint by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition. It is impossible to imagine that tourists from around the world could ever find such routine barbarism entertaining.
You can raise your voice for the helpless animals of Indonesia by taking action at www.dogmeatfreeindonesia.org, and by signing our petition to urge Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to end the dog and cat meat trade in his country.