Animal Advocates

52 Dogs Saved When Rescuers Intercept Truck Headed to Illegal Slaughterhouse

Police officers and rescuers from Dog Meat Free Indonesia intercepted a truck being driven by a suspected dog meat trader, and saved the lives of 52 dogs on their way to slaughter.

A man suspected of being a dog meat trader on the Indonesian island of Java has been arrested, and a delivery truck packed with 53 dogs was intercepted, as part of the country’s first-ever large-scale police raid on an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse.

The sting operation took place in the early hours of the morning on November 24 as the truck loaded with 53 terrified dogs arrived at a slaughterhouse. Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) rescuers found the dogs tied up in hessian sacks, their mouths tightly bound with string and cable ties. Most of the dogs were emaciated and less than one year of age. One dog had sadly died on the grueling journey.

Lola Webber, from DMFI member group Humane Society International, was one of the first on the scene. She described the moment she and her team rescued the dogs.

“My heart was pounding in my chest as we approached the truck because I could hear the dogs’ pitiful whimpering and then saw them all tied up in sacks, their soft muzzles squeezed shut with wire. They were extremely traumatized and frightened.”

Webber explained that many of the rescued dogs were still wearing collars, indicating they were likely stolen pets grabbed from the streets.

This is only the second major dog meat trade bust by police in Indonesia, marking what DMFI hopes signals a turning point in their campaign to see the brutal and dangerous trade banned nationwide.

Despite a national government pledge to crack down on the dog meat trade, it has been isolated regional governments and regencies that have so far taken the initiative to end the trade. Regencies and cities such as Karanganyar, Salatiga, and Sukoharjo have passed explicit bans in their jurisdictions, and DMFI hopes that another arrest and eventual prosecution will send a strong signal to other dog traders that their activities are illegal and will be punished.

Last month a dog trader caught by Kulon Progo District Police was sentenced to 10 months in jail and a $10,000 fine (150 million IDR) after authorities intercepted his truck illegally transporting 78 dogs from West Java for slaughter and human consumption throughout Central Java.

Mr. Tarjono Sapto Nugroho, Head of Crime Investigation of Sukoharjo police said, “dogs are friends, not food, and the trade is already illegal and is strictly prohibited by Islamic law. Dog meat consumption is considered culture by some, but cultures evolve and so must we. So we initiated this interception and confiscation to protect our communities and to support the Central Javan government’s efforts to eradicate the dog meat eating culture and trade.”

The 52 dogs rescued alive from the truck received emergency veterinary treatment from the DMFI team before traveling to DMFI’s temporary shelter where they will receive loving care to get them back to health. The chances of reuniting them with their families is slim, but DMFI will make their best efforts. The plan is that some of the dogs will be adopted locally among Indonesia’s passionate dog-loving community, while others will be flown to Humane Society International’s temporary shelter in Canada from where the organization hopes to find them forever homes.

Opinion polls consistently show that the vast majority of Indonesians don’t eat dog meat, with a mere 4.5% of the population doing so, and 93% of Indonesians in support of a ban nationwide.

Police anticipate the driver of the truck will be prosecuted later this year for violating the Law of The Republic of Indonesia Number 41 Year 2014, Article 89, regarding Animal Husbandry and Animal Health, with penalties of at least two years and maximum five years imprisonment, and/or a fine at least 150,000,000 Rupiah ($10,500 USD). The police have also pledged to further investigate others involved in illegal operations involving the trade and slaughtering of dogs throughout their jurisdiction.

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