WARNING: This article contains content that some readers may find distressing.
A shocking investigation has uncovered the brutal dog meat trade in Bali -- and how tourists are unknowingly participating in it.
Distressing footage captured by Animals Australia shows dogs being caught with wire nooses, bound and gagged and then kept for days in horrific conditions before being violently slaughtered.
The meat is then sold as satay sticks or kebabs to unsuspecting tourists at food stalls and on Balinese beaches.
Over 4 million tourists visit Bali each year, including around 1 million Australians.
"Most tourists have no idea that the letters RW on the outside of popular street food stalls in Bali indicates that dog meat is being served," explained Animals Australia's Director of Investigations, Lyn White.
"Mobile dog meat vendors are deliberately targeting tourists on beaches and are prepared to lie about the origin of the meat to get a sale."
In one clip captured by the animal welfare organisation, tourists question a food vendor "Not dog?", to which he replies, "No, no, no".
Other footage shows a vendor on a Balinese beach reassuring tourists that the meat is "chicken satay".
One dog catcher, Pak Puris, 83, told Animals Australia investigator Luke that he had killed thousands of dogs alone.
Some dogs were bought from locals, who were paid 100,000Rp ($10), while others were captured as they roamed the streets.
"It was incredibly sad to see the bewildered faces of children as their village dogs were brutally caught by dog meat gangs," White said.
The trade is not only cruel; it also poses a severe risk to public health, as the animals are sometimes killed by cyanide poisoning, which remains in their system and enters the human food chain. Other methods of slaughter including clubbing with a stick, strangulation, blow torching and shooting.
Doctor Andrew Dawson, who is the director of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre and head of toxicology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, told the ABC that the concentration of cyanide found in some parts of the animal, such as the stomach and heart, could be fatal.
"The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat," the toxicologist said, but even one satay stick could lead to someone "feeling nauseated, diarrhoea, aches in the muscles and shortness of breath".
Moreover, if a person eats the meat "again and again, that can actually give organ damage and damage to the nerves".
Samples taken by Animals Australia also revealed high levels of coliform bacteria and E.Coli, which can also lead to serious food poisoning.
The sale of dog meat is not illegal in Indonesia, but animal cruelty and the sale of infected meat is.
"The dog-meat trade breaches animal cruelty laws and food safety laws. That is a statement of fact," Animals Australia's White said.
Muslims, who make up 87 percent of Indonesia's population, do not eat the dog meat, as along with pork it is considered ritually unclean. But many of Bali's Christian minorities and other ethnic minorities enjoy the meat as a delicacy.
"Dog eating in Bali was fuelled by a minority group who came to the island to work in the hospitality industry -- it is not a Balinese practice," White said.
"For thousands of years Bali's dogs have lived peacefully in villages with locals -- it is our hope that they will be able to do so again."
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