It’s business as usual for the dog and cat meat trade in Tomohon, Indonesia, despite the Mayor’s office having given an assurance it would end to British actor Peter Egan during his visit to Tomohon “Extreme” market earlier this year.

A petition signed by over a quarter of a million people from around the world has been presented to Olly Dondokambey, Governor of North Sulawesi, by campaigners and local animal protection groups. It calls on the authorities to end the trade of dogs and cats and other animals at “traditional markets” throughout North Sulawesi, where tens of thousands of dogs and cats are slaughtered each month, with documented extreme cruelty a regular occurrence.

This comes as new shocking evidence from Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) shows dogs being beaten with a club and clearly still alive whilst being blowtorched, all in front of terrified caged dogs awaiting their turn.

Lola Webber, Change For Animals Foundation co-founder, said, “Given the extremely grave nature of the animal cruelty we have filmed over a long period, including clear evidence of dogs and cats being routinely bludgeoned and blow torched alive at markets, we are appalled that the North Sulawesi Governor refuses to acknowledge the shocking animal suffering.

“To make matters worse, the risk of rabies transmission posed by the dog meat trade is very well established, and at these markets we see dogs of unknown disease-status being transported in from other provinces in clear breach of the law.”

The Indonesian Government issued a Directive in September last year to ban the dog and cat meat trade, but Governor Olly Dondokambey continues to defy this, despite warnings about the health and safety risk to local communities and international tourists. Research has shown that between 8-11% of dogs sold for human consumption are infected with rabies in markets located throughout the province. North Sulawesi continues to have some of the highest numbers of human deaths attributed to rabies in Indonesia.

Earlier this year, in response to the DMFI’s campaign, representatives from the Mayor of Tomohon in North Sulawesi announced that the sale of live dogs and cats for slaughter had been prohibited, and made a pledge that within a year the sale of dog and cat meat would also be banned.

The same assurances were also expressed in person by Harold Lolowang, a representative from Tomohon City Mayor’s office, to Egan during a visit to the area with coalition representatives. However, fresh investigations last week have exposed these to be empty promises as DMFI filmed dog and cat traders operating openly and unobstructed by the authorities – with no sign of the Government’s Directive being implemented.

Peter Egan said, “I am shocked and saddened to see DMFI’s latest evidence of horrific dog and cat abuse at Tomohon, the very same abuse that Mr Lolowang of the city mayor’s office assured me personally would no longer be taking place. It’s devastating to know that it’s business as usual for the dog and cat meat traders in Tomohon.

“The authorities have the power to stop it immediately, but instead they appear to be ignoring the Directive issued by the Central Government, and the risks the ongoing trade poses to public health and safety, not to mention animal welfare!”

Dog meat is consumed by less than 7% of Indonesians nationally, but the trade presents a health risk to the entire population. Indonesia has the world’s 5th largest number of human rabies deaths in Asia each year, and 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.

Kelly O’Meara of Humane Society International said, “Indonesia is a country of world-renowned natural beauty, but its international reputation is marred by the ugly brutality of its dog and cat meat trade. With the volume of dogs being smuggled for a trade closely associated with the spread of rabies, coupled with the unsanitary slaughter at markets, innocent travelers could be exposing themselves to dangerous and even deadly diseases.

“American, British, Australian and other tourists would be well advised to stay away. The lack of government action to crack down on this trade is certainly calling into question Indonesia’s position as a prime tourist destination.”

Find out more about the campaign, here

Images by Dog Meat Free Indonesia 

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