Photos by Garry Lotulung/ AP Images for HSI
Indonesia’s Tomohon “Extreme” Market in North Sulawesi province has officially banned the dog and cat meat trade. The historic agreement will spare the lives of thousands of animals from being bludgeoned and blowtorched to death for human consumption.
Twenty five dogs and three cats found alive at the slaughterhouses, that supplied the market, were rescued by Humane Society International (HSI) as part of the deal, and have been taken to a nearby partner sanctuary to receive emergency veterinary treatment and care until they are ready to find their forever homes.
The last six remaining dog and cat traders signed the agreement to permanently close and end all trafficking, slaughter, and sale of dogs and cats. The agreement will also disrupt the vast supply network of dog and cat thieves and traffickers involved in the punishingly long-distance transport of these animals that spans the entire island of Sulawesi.
The mayor of Tomohon, Caroll Senduk, also signed into law a ban on all future dog and cat meat trading at the market in recognition of the grave risk of rabies transmission. This puts an end to one of the most shocking and barbaric practices at the notorious market.
The dog meat trade is rampant on the island of Sulawesi, with investigations suggesting more than 130,000 dogs are slaughtered at its markets every year. Tomohon Extreme Market―which sells live and slaughtered dogs and cats alongside butchered pythons, bats, and rats―is the most notorious of them all. At one point, the market was even listed on tourist websites as a gruesome must-see destination until the listing was removed following a protest led by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition.
Upsetting footage taken by HSI at the market in March of this year, shows dogs cowering and panting in transport cages, then being yanked out by the neck to be bludgeoned to death. Rows of blowtorched dog and cat carcasses are shown on display in market stalls.
As a founding member of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, HSI has been exposing North Sulawesi’s cruel trade for the past six years, including the first ever in-depth exposé in 2017.
“With Tomohon Extreme Market going dog and cat meat-free, in addition to the permanent closure of the slaughterhouses that killed hundreds of these animals every week, the impact will be far-reaching, shutting down business for the traders’ vast network of traffickers, dog thieves, and slaughterers,” said Lola Webber, HSI’s director of campaigns to end the dog meat trade.
”It is a huge victory for animal welfare and public safety that never again will dogs and cats be bludgeoned and blowtorched at Tomohon market, and we hope this unprecedented agreement will set the standard for other markets and leaders to follow,” continued Webber.
In addition to directly decreasing the supply of dog and cat meat in this hotspot city, HSI hopes this ban will increase pressure on the government to take more seriously the enormous public health risk posed by Indonesia’s dog and cat meat trades nationally. Trans-provincial trafficking of dogs into densely populated cities facilitates the spread of the deadly rabies virus.
The dogs and cats saved by HSI and partner group Animal Friends Manado Indonesia (AFMI) are now recovering at AFMI’s nearby sanctuary, the only companion animal sanctuary operating in the province. The severely traumatized and dehydrated dogs and cats received emergency veterinary care on arrival and will have a loving home alongside the sanctuary’s other animal guests until they find their forever homes.
“We are thrilled to welcome our new companions to our sanctuary where they will never have to fear pain and abuse ever again. With love and patience, their physical and mental wounds will heal from the trauma they must have experienced at the hands of the dog meat traders,” said Frank Delano with AFMI. “The trucks packed with hundreds of terrified dogs and cats have driven past our sanctuary on their way to Tomohon Market virtually every day. It was the saddest scene to witness and we are so happy we will never see those trucks again.”