A coalition of animal welfare groups has released horrific footage of dogs being bashed to death and blowtorched in so-called “extreme markets” in Indonesia.
Dog Meat Free Indonesia ― formed by the Indonesian groups Animal Friends Jogja and Jakarta Animal Aid Network, the United Kingdom-based Change for Animals Foundation, and Australia’s Humane Society International ― shared 12 minutes of graphic footage from a December visit to so-called “extreme markets” in North Sulawesi, a province of Indonesia.
The group filmed the video at Tomohon Extreme Market and Langowan Market, where vendors sell fruit and fresh produce alongside dogs and cats that are brutally killed on-site. Though different types of animals can be seen in the footage, the video focuses on dogs.
“It was like walking through hell. The dogs huddled together in cages, trembling with fear as they watched others being killed around them, waiting their turn,” said Dog Meat Free Indonesia campaign coordinator Lola Webber in a statement.
“The sight of absolute terror in their eyes, the thumping of the club as they were bludgeoned, their screams of pain, and the smell of burning hair and flesh, were appalling and unforgettable.”
Warning: The following video includes extremely graphic footage that viewers may find disturbing.
“Most Indonesians don’t eat dogs and cats, and this extreme cruelty tarnishes our global reputation,” said Bobby Fernando of Animal Friends Jogja. “The tourist board’s slogan of a ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ rings hollow when you’ve gazed into the eyes of a dog spattered with blood and shaking with fear.”
Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns for Humane Society International, estimates that only around 7 percent of Indonesia’s population eats dog and cat meat. She added that many animals killed and sold in these markets were strays, but some were also stolen household pets.
“There’s no need to go undercover to film. The brutality is quite open. The markets are even marketed to tourists as a tourist attraction,” she said.
“The footage my colleagues came back with was horrific. It’s an everyday event; thousands of dogs and cats are killed every week.”
The video shows dogs held in tiny, cramped wire cages. In the footage, several men can be seen roughly poking dogs toward a hole in the cage, bludgeoning them on their heads with a wooden plank, then pulling them out of the cage by their legs. The men then lay the dogs on the concrete floor of the market and bash them again. Almost immediately, they begin to blowtorch the animals with a gas flamethrower to crudely cook them.
At least one of the dogs appears to be twitching while the blowtorch is applied, suggesting it may still be alive.
Dog Meat Free Indonesia called the video “the worst animal cruelty footage our team of campaigners have ever witnessed.” The coalition is urging the Indonesian government to crack down on the dog meat industry, which is legal in the country.
Campaigners say the dog meat trade could easily spread rabies and other diseases due to the dirty conditions in the markets.
“It’s not like industrial farming, with regulations around it. You see how the dogs are treated. There is no empathy for their well-being at all. They’re pulled out of trucks, chucked on the ground, huddled in cages, then thrown on the ground. You can’t believe how callous it is,” Benyon said.
“Consider the trust dogs place in us, and the betrayal of that, especially considering many of them are stolen pets,” she continued. “The cruelty is horrendous, but it’s also a serious public health risk. Indonesia is working hard to combat rabies, and this is a major risk for rabies with dogs being moved from province to province.”
Benyon said the coalition was seeking meetings with national and provincial governments to shut down the trade and enforce existing laws to protect public safety. Humane Society International is also hosting a petition calling for the trade to be outlawed.
“Dog meat is a niche interest. It’s not a widespread practise or deeply ingrained; it’s a small industry where some are making money. It wouldn’t be so difficult to transition people into a more humane livelihood,” Benyon said.