53 Dogs Rescued From Dog Meat Trade in Indonesia

They were found tied up in sacks with their muzzles tightly bound.

rescued dog in Indonesia
The dogs were mostly under a year old.

Yoma Times Suryadi / AP Images for HSI

Police and animal rescue workers saved 53 dogs from the illegal dog meat trade on the Indonesian island of Java. The dogs were packed on a delivery truck tied up in sacks with their mouths bound with cable ties and strings.

During the sting operation, police from Sukoharjo Regency arrested a man suspected of being a dog meat trader. The bust took place in the very early morning on Nov. 24. It was Indonesia’s first large-scale police raid on an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse and only the second major dog meat trade bust in the country. 

The man police arrested has allegedly been at the center of the dog meat trade on Java for more than two decades. Police suspect him of coordinating shipments of hundreds of dogs intended for slaughter every month and killing an average of 30 dogs each day.

Members of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition, which works for a nationwide ban on the dog and cat meat trades, were there to help rescue dogs on the scene. They found that most of the dogs were emaciated and very young. One of the dogs had died in the truck.

"The moment I peered inside the dog truck parked outside the slaughterhouse, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach because to see dogs so distressed and abused is really challenging. You're seeing traumatised and shocked animals who have experienced the very worst of humanity, stolen and brutalised,” Lola Webber, Humane Society International’s End Dog Meat campaign director, tells Treehugger. 

“Most of them were mere babies, under one year old, and in such awful condition, just skin and bones. They were tied up in sacks up to their necks, starved of food and water in the blistering heat, and sitting in their own filth. It broke my heart to see. One poor dog had already died on what must have been a grueling journey.”

Many of the dogs were wearing collars, most likely pets that were stolen off the street, Webber says. Pet theft for the meat trade is a serious problem in the country. Members of DMFI have talked to many residents who have been confronted by armed traders who stole their dogs at night. 

However, according to DMFI, despite a national government pledge to crack down on the illegal dog meat trade, these thefts are not often taken seriously, so the thieves are rarely arrested or punished. Only some regional governments and cities have passed bans. DMFI hopes that this bust will be a turning point and lead closer to a nationwide ban.

Polls show that the majority of people in Indonesia don’t eat dog meat, with only 4.5% of the population doing so. In addition, 93% of Indonesians support a nationwide ban.

Health Care and New Homes

rescued dog examined in Indonesia
The dogs were immediately examined and given medical care.

Yoma Times Suryadi / AP Images for HSI

The rescued dogs were examined and received emergency veterinary care before traveling to a temporary shelter for treatment and healing. DMFI thinks it will be difficult to find their original families, but will make local appeals to find their homes. Some of the dogs will be adopted locally, while others will be flown to HSI’s temporary shelter in Canada to find forever homes.

“They are now recovering in our temporary shelter where they will receive lots of love as well as proper veterinary treatment. It was heartwarming to see some of them already bouncing back, but for others they are still extremely traumatised. I know how brutally dog traffickers treat these animals, so I dread to think what they have been through,” says Webber. 

“I hope that this raid sends a strong message to other traders in Indonesia that the authorities are cracking down on their cruel and dangerous trade.”

In October, a dog trader arrested by Kulon Progo District Police in Indonesia was sentenced to 10 months in jail and a $10,000 fine (150 million Indonesian rupiahs) after he was found with a truck illegally transporting 78 dogs for slaughter.

“We receive many complaints about illegal dog meat traders’ operations. People do not want this trade or slaughter in their communities. Dogs are friends, not food, and the trade is already illegal and is strictly prohibited by Islamic law,” Tarjono Sapto Nugroho, head of crime investigation of Sukoharjo police, said in a statement.

“Dog meat consumption is considered culture by some, but cultures evolve and so must we. So we initiated this interception and confiscation to protect our communities and to support the Central Javan government’s efforts to eradicate the dog meat eating culture and trade.”

View Article Sources
  1. Lola Webber, Humane Society International’s End Dog Meat campaign director

  2. "Dog Meat Traders to be Prosecuted for the First Time in Indonesian History." The Humane Society of the United States.