Indonesia’s dog meat trade is rife with brutality. Most of its animal victims are stolen pets and street dogs, and they usually endure death by bludgeoning and blowtorching. This week, more than 90 celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Cameron Diaz, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Simon Cowell and Dame Judi Dench, are putting their collective star power behind a call to end this grisly enterprise.
The celebrities, working with Humane Society International as part of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, have signed a letter to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia urging him to end the slaughter of millions of dogs and cats for their meat. The coalition, launched in November last year, is a joint effort by Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Animals Friend Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation, Four Paws and HSI. The coalition has been raising public awareness and lobbying local and central governments. We have also been working to focus the whole world’s eye on the extent of this trade in Indonesia, much as we have done in China and South Korea.
In January, the coalition released a video that went behind the scenes at a live animal market in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, one of 200 in the area. We documented footage of dogs and cats being subjected to the worst possible ordeal. The animals, crammed together in crates, huddled in fear as their cage-mates were dragged out and killed.
“The footage from markets in North Sulawesi is deplorable, and clearly documents the routine use of brutal handling and killing,” the celebrities state in their letter to President Widodo. “We are sure you will agree that the level of brutality towards these dogs and cats is shocking and demands your urgent attention.”
The letter also reminds the president of the serious threat that the dog meat trade poses to the health and safety of Indonesian citizens. Human deaths from rabies have been directly linked to the slaughtering, butchery, handling and even consumption of meat from infected dogs.
Indonesia’s dog meat trade caters to a tiny percentage of the country’s population: it is estimated that less than seven percent of Indonesians consume dogs, and just a fraction of Indonesians rely on this trade as a primary source of income.
On the other hand, continuing this trade could cause enormous damage to Indonesia’s global reputation, as the letter reminds President Widodo. “As national and international concern for animals grows, so does the need for decisive action to be taken,” the letter states.
Celebrities who signed the letter and lent their name to the cause include Ricky Martin, Tyrese Gibson, Chelsea Handler, Kate Beckinsale, Simon Cowell, Rainn Wilson, Naomi Watts, Elizabeth Hurley, Josh Brolin, David Duchovny, Courteney Cox, Gus Kenworthy, Anna Paquin, Helen Hunt, Goran Visnjic, Julianna Margulies, Téa Leoni, Joaquin Phoenix, and many more.
You can read the full letter here, and you can do your part by raising your voice for the dogs and cats caught up in Indonesia’s dog meat trade by signing our petition to urge President Widodo to end the dog and cat meat trade there.