Actions to End the Dog Meat Trade Finally Underway in Indonesia


After Central Java’s Regency of Karanganyar announced that it would eradicate the dog meat trade, provincial authorities have backed the move. Meanwhile, Bali has increased its efforts to close all dog meat restaurants island-wide, having declared it illegal.

In June, the Regency of Karanganyar on Indonesia’s most populous island, Java, announced they would completely eradicate the dog meat trade throughout their jurisdiction.​

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

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Restrained dogs sold in the dog meat trade. Image via Change For Animals Foundation.

Since this major breakthrough and first for the island of Java, authorities throughout Java are joining in for calls for an end to the trade, which is not only unimaginably cruel, but also threatens public health and safety, notably in the form of the transmission of the deadly rabies virus.

The Central Java Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Service was quick to voice its support for Karanganyar’s bold move, citing the illegality, dangers and cruelty of the trade. On the 27th June, the Regent (head) of Wonogiri Regency joined these calls, declaring plans to eradicate the trade from his Central Javan Regency as well!

These are major breakthroughs, as Central Java is a major hub of the dog meat trade on the island of Java, which is home to over 50% of Indonesia’s population!

Meanwhile in Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, local media has reported that 77 stalls selling dog meat have been closed, with the authorities stating that they will continue to take action against those who continue to trade in and sell dog meat. The Head of Animal Health stated that the sale of dog meat is “clearly prohibited (by law) because dog meat is not considered food” and the trade has the “potential to spread the dangerous rabies virus.”

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Caged dogs in Indonesia’s dog meat trade. Image via Change For Animals Foundation.

These actions are in line with the directive issued by the central government to all provincial governments in 2018. This came after a pledge for action at the National Coordination of Animal Welfare meeting in Jakarta last year, where officials described the trade as “torture for animals” and added that “dog meat or any animal that is not registered as a farm animal, is illegal.”

Ongoing investigations by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition, co-founded by Change For Animals Foundation (CFAF), have documented dogs being beaten and strung upside down to bleed out while still conscious, in full view of other terrified bound and caged dogs who await their turn, resulting in widespread shock and public condemnation, nationally and globally.

When announcing the development of an action plan, Regent of Karanganyar Regency Dr. Juliyatmono denounced the trade, warning of the grave risks to public health it poses. Whilst dog meat is consumed by some for its perceived health properties, the reality is that the dog meat trade poses a significant and very real threat to public health, with rabies transmission being of particularly grave concern. Research shows that the highest prevalence of rabies occurs in provinces and regencies with the highest dog meat consumption, bringing with it devastating consequences for human health, animal welfare and the local economy.

“Throughout our investigations, we have visited the most soul-destroying of places. The markets and slaughterhouses the dogs are taken to are like scenes from a horror movie. But this is the reality for dogs stolen to supply the meat trade. They sit in tiny cages or in hessian sacks, their mouths bound shut making it hard to breathe… and they sit and wait, watching others being bludgeoned and blowtorched whilst they wait their turns. The terror in their eyes and their trembling bodies will forever haunt me.”

Lola Webber, CFAF co-founder.

Featured image: a puppy in Indonesia. All dogs in Indonesia should be free from the dog meat trade. Image credit Jasper Arends, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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