JAKARTA - Up to a million pooches are butchered each year to supply the dog-meat trade in Indonesia, said a new animal-rights group on Thursday (Nov 2), as it launched the 'Dog Meat-Free Indonesia' campaign.
To raise awareness of the brutality that dogs suffer from kennel to dinner-plate, the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia Coalition released a video showing dogs, including pets, being snatched from the streets.
"The clearly terrified dogs are driven for hours to supply markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants, where they are brutally beaten and then bled out for their meat in front of each other," said the group.
The 'Dog Meat-Free Indonesia' campaign is a collaboration between Animal Friends Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation, Humane Society International and Jakarta Animal Aid Network.
It is also backed by Indonesian celebrities such as Chelsea Islan, Sophia Latjuba and Gamaliel Tapiheru, as well as British actors Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Peter Egan, who appear in a video aimed at ending the dog meat trade.
Dog meat is regarded as a delicacy in many parts of Indonesia, including on the popular island resort of Bali, where Animals Australia has said up to 100,000 dogs are slaughtered for consumption every year.
In July, Bali's governor I Made Mangku Pastika cracked down on the dog meat trade due to revelations of animal cruelty, and the risk to public health and the island's reputation as a tourist destination.
"The Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition believes that strong actions must be extended to the whole of Indonesia in order to shut down the brutally cruel, unsanitary, and unsafe dog meat trade," said the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia Coalition.
Ms Karin Franken from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network said that although dog meat is consumed by less than 7 per cent of Indonesians, it still "threatens the health and safety of the entire nation".
The World Health Organization has identified Indonesia's dog meat trade as a major contributor to lethal rabies in the country. There are also growing concerns that rabies-positive dogs are being moved to supply highly-populated cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
According to the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia Coalition, the dog meat trade in Indonesia operates in breach of existing laws and regulations to safeguard public health and safety, as well as provisions to protect animals from cruelty.
In Jakarta, dog meat can be easily found at restaurants and food stalls.
The Straits Times visited Jalan Pramuka Raya, and found at least five establishments serving such dishes.
Mr Muliadi Saragih, owner of Lapo Ni Tondongta restaurant, said the dog meat they use is delivered from suppliers outside the city. Lapo is slang for a foodstall that serves ethnic Batak food, of which dog is a delicacy.
"We refer to pork as B2, because the Bahasa word for pig, which is babi, has two letter Bs, while the Batak word for dog is biang and has one B, so B1," a customer at Lapo Ni Tondongta told The Straits Times.
Mr Muliadi added that demand for dog meat has always been stable, comparable with that for pork.
His supplier Yudi, who like some Indonesians go by one name, said he gets dog meat from towns in West Java such as Bandung and Subang. According to Mr Yudi, dog meat is sold in packs of 5kg, and meat with bones go for 40,000 rupiah (S$4) per kilogram, while meat-only packs cost 5,000 rupiah more.
Mr Richard Silotonga, 46, an employee at an oil and gas company said: "Dog meat warms you up and is healthy, but I have cut down on eating it because my daughter complains that it's mean of me to eat dogs."