Dog and cat meat trade banned in infamous Indonesian market – BenarNews

In a victory for animal lovers around the world, authorities on Friday banned the trade of dog and cat meat at an infamous Indonesian market where butchers openly burned the animals.

The ban has been imposed at the Tomohon market in North Sulawesi province in a country where 1 million dogs and cats are killed every year, although most Indonesians, who are Muslim, do not eat dog meat.

Eating dog and cat meat is an ancestral tradition of the Minahasa people, North Sulawesi’s largest ethnic group, but Tomohon officials hope to educate residents about the health risks of eating the meat, including animal cruelty and rabies.

„We believe that Tomohon can be completely rid of the trade in dogs and cats,” said Edwin Roring, Tomohon’s city secretary.

„Because the way to reduce the interest in eating dogs and cats in Tomohan is to start by stopping their sale in the market.”

Rohring said anyone violating the ban would face legal sanctions, and local authorities would offer alternative livelihoods to former dog and cat meat traders.

A 2021 poll found that 93% of Indonesians support a national ban on dog meat, while only 4.5% eat such meat. Yet more than 20,000 dogs and cats are slaughtered every week.

Activists say that in North Sulawesi, dogs and cats are snatched from the streets and families, gagged and stuffed into crates, transported in appalling conditions and then caged in filthy markets.

They are then killed in the most gruesome ways, often in front of children who come to the market with their parents. For example, butchers take torches to dogs and cats while they are still alive to remove the hair from their skin.

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A rescue team from Humane Society International moves dogs rescued from a slaughterhouse onto a truck to transport them to a dog shelter in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, on July 21, 2023.[Taufan Bustan/BenarNews]

The Humane Society International (HSI) and Animal Friends Manado Indonesia (AFMI), which have been campaigning for years to end the dog and cat meat trade in Indonesia, said it also poses a serious risk to human health.

Dogs and cats carry rabies and other infectious diseases, they said.

„We hope that one day there will be no dogs and cats in Tomohon,” said AFMI activist Frank Delano Manus.

„There is resistance because people believe that eating dogs and cats is an important tradition of the Minahasa people that is difficult to get rid of,” he said.

Karanveer Gukreja, Southeast Asia campaigner for global animal welfare group Four Paws, said the Domohon ban could not have come soon enough.

„DMFI’s work over the past five years has relentlessly exposed Tomohon Extreme Market as one of the worst animal welfare cases we have seen when it comes to the dog and cat meat trade,” Kukreja said in a statement. DMFI, or Dog Meat Free Indonesia, is a coalition of Indonesian and international groups.

Four Paws has collected two million signatures calling for an end to the dog and cat meat trade across Southeast Asia.

„What we want to see now is a national ban after years of severe and endless animal cruelty,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, banned the sale of dog meat altogether.

Indonesia is one of many countries in Asia where some people still consume dog and cat meat.

An estimated 30 million dogs and cats, including stolen pets, are killed each year in Asia for the meat trade, including an estimated 10 million in Southeast Asia alone, Four Paws reported.

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Dog meat is the best seller

Animal traders in Tomohon are unhappy with the ban.

„What can we do? It’s already the rule of the government, so we have to follow it,” Melki Bongo, one of the traders, told Benarnews.

He said he has been supplying markets in North Sulawesi with dogs and cats for almost 30 years without any problems.

But after videos of dogs and cats being brutally killed at the Tomohon market went viral online, there were many calls to stop the sale of dogs and cats, he said.

Pongo was referring to videos released by anti-animal cruelty campaigners in 2018 that exposed Tomohon Market’s cruel practices and led to global outrage, including from global personalities.

He said 90% of the dogs and cats he sold came from the neighboring provinces of Sulawesi and Borneo (Kalimantan), apart from North Sulawesi, which is predominantly Christian. Muslims are forbidden to eat dog and cat meat.

A team member from the Humane Society International Rescue team comforts a dog rescued from a slaughterhouse in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, on July 21, 2023. [Taufan Bustan/BenarNews]

Bongo said he bought an animal for 50,000 to 100,000 rupiah (about US$3.50 to $7) and sold it in North Sulawesi for about 700,000 rupiah (about $49).

Now, he said, he is focusing on selling pigs.

“I will give up selling dogs altogether. I pray to God to give me more luck,” he said.

Junli Hesta Kapo, another trader, said dog meat is the best seller at Domohon market.

„Typically, suppliers would bring 150 animals to the market and they would sell out within hours,” he said.

Capo, who also eats dog meat, said he and his family have no problem with it.

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„The meat is like free-range chicken, especially when cooked rica-rica,” he said, referring to the spicy dish with chilies, onions, garlic and other spices.

Capo added that all traders will follow the government’s rule.

„If there are no sales of dogs and cats consumption will naturally decrease,” he said.

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