'Extreme' Indonesian market ends dog, cat meat trade

22 Jul 2023 02:24pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A notorious Indonesian animal market has ended the sale of dog and cat meat after years of activist pressure to stop the trade and its brutal methods of slaughter, according to campaigners.

Canine and feline meat were on the menu alongside bats, rats, snakes and monkeys at the Tomohon Extreme Market on Sulawesi island, known for its disturbing culinary spread until a ban was imposed on Friday.

The previously uncompromising bazaar is the first such market in the country to finally back down and stop the trade of cat and dog meat, animal rights group Humane Society International (HSI) said in a statement Friday.

It called the ban a "historic agreement that will spare thousands of animals from being bludgeoned and blowtorched to death for human consumption." Indonesia remains one of the few countries in the world that still permits the sale of dog and cat meat due to local traditions and culture.

The market's six remaining dog and cat meat traders signed an agreement to stop the sale, and the mayor of Tomohon city signed into law a ban on future trade at the market, the group said in a statement.

"The impact will be far-reaching, shutting down business for the traders' vast network of traffickers, dog thieves and slaughterers," Lola Webber, HSI's director of campaigns to end the dog meat trade, said.

"We hope this unprecedented agreement will set the standard." The rights group said the agreement has potentially saved the lives of thousands of pups on the island, where as many as 130,000 are slaughtered annually.

The market had courted widespread criticism from activists for the methods used to slaughter animals, such as beatings, hangings and blowtorching of fur while they were still alive.

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Those calls ramped up after the first cluster of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 was linked to a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, stoking fears elsewhere that viruses were jumping from animals to humans.

HSI and Indonesian rights groups are also trying to stop the trade to prevent the spread of the deadly rabies virus.

Elvianus Pongoh, one of the sellers at Tomohon for 25 years, said the time was right to end the trade.

"I have probably slaughtered thousands of dogs. Every now and then I would see the fear in their eyes... as I came for them, and it made me feel bad," he said in the HSI press release.

"I know this ban is best for the animals and also best to protect the public." - AFP

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