Victory! 67 dogs saved from dog meat trade in Indonesia

26 May 2021

In a groundbreaking and historic move, police in the city of Salatiga in Central Java, Indonesia, intercepted a truck carrying 78 dogs who were destined for the dog meat trade earlier this month.

This is the first time in Indonesian history that enforcement officials have intercepted the supply chain of this dangerous and cruel industry. It has been widely applauded as an exciting and promising step towards the eradication of the dog meat trade in Indonesia.

An illegal yet active industry

At the 2018 National Coordination of Animal Welfare meeting in Indonesia, the government pledged to end the dog and cat meat trade for good. Mr Syamsul Ma'arif, Director of Veterinary Public Health, described the trade as “torture for animals” and added that “the consumption of dogs or any animal that is not registered as a farm animal is illegal”.

And yet, the dog and cat meat trade in Indonesia has continued under the radar. Tens of thousands of dogs and cats are snatched from the streets or people’s homes every day and distributed across the country, in gruelling and often fatal conditions, to be sold for slaughter. 

The end of the industry begins

Just days before the raid took place, the mayor of Salatiga had passed a regulation banning the dog meat trade in the city and, most importantly, promised to enforce the ban. The mayor was praised by the public and animal welfare campaigners alike, and the move attracted huge media attention across Indonesia.

Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI), who Animals Asia is a member of, celebrated the news of the ban being enforced. Dave Neale, Animals Asia’s Captive Animal Welfare Director said, “this is a truly momentous move for officials to clamp down on the illegal dog and cat meat trade in Indonesia which has not been prioritised for too long and we hope it encourages other authorities to also take action.”

67 dogs now safe and well

When the police intercepted the truck, the dogs had been in transit for ten hours in cramped, squalid conditions. Sadly, 11 dogs had died during the journey - a common occurrence in the illegal transportation of dogs and cats for food. Many of the dogs were wearing collars, suggesting they were stolen companion animals. 

DMFI worked with the police to carefully move the dogs from the truck and then took them to a local animal shelter. The dogs will be cared for and receive medical attention until they can be rehomed or where possible, reunited with their human companions.

Cruel to animals, dangerous to humans

Not only is the dog meat trade incredibly cruel, it’s dangerous to humans. The World Health Organisation highlighted it as a contributing factor in the spread of rabies in Asia. So while only a minority of Indonesians consume dog meat - an estimated 7% of the population - the practice threatens the health and safety of the entire country.

And with the international outbreak of Covid-19, the topic of zoonotic diseases - the transfer of infectious and potentially fatal diseases to humans from animals - has never been more pressing or prevalent. 

As Dave Neal concludes, “it is more important than ever before that we consider the implications of our mistreatment of animals. Now is the time to end the trade of dogs and cats for consumption to not only improve the lives of animals, but mitigate the risk of spreading further potentially deadly diseases to and between humans.”