Tidal wave of change sweeping away Indonesia’s dog meat trade

09 July 2019


After one region announced they would eradicate dog meat, Java authorities have backed the move while Bali shuts down sellers.

Authorities across Indonesia are once again throwing their weight behind moves to end the dog meat trade.

In June, the regency of Karanganyar on the nation’s largest island, Java, announced they would completely eradicate dog meat in their jurisdiction.

Since then, the Central Java Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Service has publicly backed the move claiming the industry is illegal and cruel.

Meanwhile in Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, authorities have turned the tide on dog meat cruelty by shutting down 77 dog meat stalls.

A scared dog is bound by meat traders

The moves come after investigations by Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI), a coalition of animal welfare organisations including Animals Asia, caused widespread shock and public condemnation.

The investigations showed dogs being beaten and strung upside down to bleed out while still conscious, and in full view of other terrified dogs bound and caged who await their turn.

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:

“The Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition has been calling the Indonesian government to account through our investigations into continuing dog meat cruelty and we are starting to see our persistence pay off.

“The authorities know only actions can prove they are serious about ending this brutal trade and the deadly rabies health risk it carries. Indonesia’s people and Indonesia’s dogs deserve so much better. They deserve a cruelty-free society without the threat of rabies hanging over innocent families.”

The tidal wave of provincial government action against the dog meat trade follows a directive from the central Ministry of Agriculture in 2018 calling on provincial governments to tackle the dog and cat meat trades.

A dog is tied up in a sack awaiting slaughter

While DMFI investigations have revealed widespread dog meat cruelty to be continuing, the latest moves by provinces across the archipelago show regional authorities may finally be falling into line.

In Karanganyar regency, the authorities have already met dog meat sellers to discuss alternative livelihoods for families reliant on the trade. The moves to end dog meat eating in the regency are expected to save 2,000 dogs a month.

Local media have also reported that the authorities in Bali will continue their crackdown on dog meat sellers with the Head of Animal Health agreeing the sale of dog meat is illegal as it is not officially registered as a food product and has been proven to spread the deadly rabies virus.

Campaigners warn that while dog meat is consumed by some for its perceived health properties, the reality is that the trade in and slaughtering of dogs poses a significant and grave risk of rabies transmission, and not only to consumers.

It is estimated that just 7% of the entire population of Indonesia consumes dog meat, yet data spanning decades suggests it is no coincidence that the provinces and regencies with the greatest demand for dog meat are also those with the highest prevalence of rabies, with devastating societal, economic and animal welfare impacts.

Dogs in cages in Indonesia's markets 

DMFI is a coalition of national and international animal protection organisations comprising Change For Animals Foundation, Humane Society International, Animals Asia, Four Paws, Animal Friends Jogja and Jakarta Animal Aid Network, which tackles the dog meat trade in Indonesia through public awareness campaigning, political lobbying and engagement, and on-the-ground practical support for interceptions as needed.


Now is the time to keep up the pressure. You can help by writing a polite letter to the Indonesian embassy in your country expressing your concern at the brutal dog meat trade.

Suggested letter:

I am deeply concerned about the millions of dogs caught up in Indonesia’s brutal dog meat trade, and the risk this poses to Indonesia’s pledge to eliminate rabies by 2020. 

Every year, millions of dogs – including many stolen pets – are transported within Indonesia to supply markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants. Nationwide investigations have revealed the immense suffering caused to these dogs – crude and brutal methods of capture, transport and slaughter – and there are also growing concerns for the risks the dog meat trade poses to human health, including the transmission of deadly rabies. 

Despite only a minority of Indonesians ever consuming dog meat, the trade in dogs for consumption threatens the health of the entire nation. The dog meat trade is the only trade known to encourage the large-scale, illegal movement of dogs of unknown disease and vaccination status between regencies (and islands), disrupting herd immunity to rabies achieved through mass vaccination programs. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) has explicitly highlighted the trade in dogs for human consumption as a contributing factor to the spread of rabies in Indonesia. In fact the dog meat trade likely poses the greatest hurdle to Indonesia achieving rabies-free status by 2020. 

The brutal and unhygienic slaughter and butchery of dogs, and consumption of meat from rabies-positive animals, puts humans at risk. Human deaths from rabies have been directly linked to involvement in the slaughtering, butchery, handling and even consumption of meat from infected dogs. 

Pet ownership is rising rapidly in Indonesia and with that comes a responsibility to provide adequate legislation to protect animals from cruelty. Around the world, dogs loyally assist us as therapists in hospitals and schools and serve with our armed forces and police to protect us. The dog meat trade is the ultimate betrayal of this special relationship. 

Across Asia there is mounting opposition towards this cruel trade and an ever-growing number of countries and territories prohibiting the trade in and consumption of dog meat, on the grounds of human health risks, animal protection, and dogs’ special roles as companion animals. Action to protect all dogs from this inherently cruel industry would be applauded and celebrated nationally and globally. 

I urge you, on behalf of all dogs and the vast majority (93%) of the Indonesian population who never consume dog meat, to please take action to safeguard Indonesia’s dogs from cruelty and the nation’s health by ending the cruel and illegal dog meat trade.

Contact details: Embassies of Indonesia