We have more good news to report in our global fight against the dog meat trade. The Indian state of Nagaland last Friday announced an end to all import, trade and sales of live dogs and dog meat. The ban would end the terrible suffering of approximately 30,000 dogs who are smuggled each year into Nagaland from around India, most of them stray dogs and stolen pets.
This outcome could not have come sooner: companion animals caught up in this trade in India endure some of the worst suffering imaginable. In 2016, Humane Society International/India released heartbreaking video footage of an underground ‘death pit’ in Nagaland where dogs were violently clubbed to death in front of each other. The dogs were smuggled to the markets in sacks with just their heads poking out and their mouths stitched or tied with rope to keep them quiet. The animals do not get any food or water during the transport and while on display at the markets.
We have since campaigned vigorously to end this cruel trade. India already bans the consumption of dog meat, but the ban is poorly enforced and we know that the trade goes on in at least four states in northeastern India, including Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. Soon after we released the video we wrote to the Nagaland chief minister urging the government to implement the ban on dog meat consumption, patrol trade routes and shut down markets. We also launched an online petition calling on the authorities to enforce the dog meat ban immediately. Over the years we have helped rescue more than 150 dogs from this trade in India and placed them into loving homes with the support of local partners.
Last week, after receiving new photographs of the trade from a Nagaland-based animal protection organization, Maneka Gandhi, a member of the Indian parliament and the founder of our local partner, People for Animals (PFA), made an urgent public appeal to the government of Nagaland to stop the trade. More than 125,000 people wrote to the Nagaland government, and HSI/India swiftly assisted PFA in providing expert input on the matter. On Friday, a government spokesperson announced the state government had decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs and dog markets and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked.
The government of Nagaland is now considering how to allot land to accommodate dogs rescued from the trade and to promote the adoption of these dogs, and HSI/India and PFA will be working alongside to help work out the details.
The Nagaland ban is a breakthrough moment in our fight to end the dog meat trade in India, and we applaud lawmakers in the state for acting decisively. Earlier this year, the state of Mizoram removed dogs from the list of animals suitable for slaughter, taking the first steps towards ending this cruel trade there. We urge Mizoram and other Indian states, where this trade still goes on, to unequivocally reiterate the dog meat trade ban, as Nagaland has, and follow through with rigorous enforcement. We will be there, pushing for this outcome, until this trade is wiped out from India, and wherever it exists, for good.