Ending the well documented cruelty of Indonesia’s dog-meat trade has become a major issue for local and international animal right activists, who have been petitioning the government to issue a ban on the trade. A recent meeting between activists and government representatives have led to a breakthrough and a promise by officials to make the country’s dog-meat trade illegal.
READ our original feature — Abandoned: Indonesia’s animal activists lack legal backing to stop cruelty towards critters
On August 1-2, the Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition (DMFI) — which includes NGOs such as the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), Animal Friends Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation and Humane Society International — made their case at the National Coordination of Animal Welfare meeting, organized by the Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture and attended by representatives of livestock and animal health agencies, the Indonesian Veterinary Medicine Association and related NGOs from across Indonesia.
During the meeting, DMFI coalition showed a video of their investigations into the dog meat trade and held a group meeting session to discuss it afterwards. Similar videos showing some of the most shocking and cruel aspects of the dog meat trade have helped given momentum to activists seeking a ban in recent years.
Part of DMFI’s argument was based not just on the cruelty of the dog meat trade but also its potential health dangers to humans. Just days earlier, the coalition had issued a public warning that millions of tourists to Indonesia could be at risk of rabies due to the dog meat trade.
Their arguments were apparently quite convincing. In a video from the meeting, Indonesia’s director of veterinary public health referred to the way dogs in the trade were treated as “torture”.
According to a press release by JAAN, at the end of the meeting’s closing session, all participants agreed to issue a ban on the trade of dog and cat meat in Indonesia, as well as prohibit the issuance of veterinary certificates for meat from either animal. Additionally, the results of the national coordination meeting would be used as the basis for a recommendation to the Ministry of Agriculture to formulate a regulation regarding the ban on the dog meat trade in Indonesia.
So while DFMI is hailing the results of the meeting as a breakthrough, there are still several steps that need to be taken before the ban can become official and enforceable by the law.
But JAAN co-founder Karin Franken told Coconuts she is very optimistic that the government will follow through. “It’s a major step forward and we are very happy that the government finally recognizes the unacceptable cruelty as well as the national public health safety threat due to the spread of rabies caused by the heavy traffic of the dog meat trade.”
“We are very optimistic because the Ministry of Agriculture published the content of the meeting held on August 1 and 2, which shows they are obviously serious,” she added.
Asked what the public can do to help ensure that the government goes through with enacting the ban, Franken said, “Continue to share any news regarding this so they won’t forget! I am very confident they will go ahead with the ban because they already published it on their website. The way I see it, there is no way back.”
DMFI has been lobbying the government heavily since the start of this year. In January, they sent a letter to President Joko Widodo calling for immediate action and the letter was signed by more than 90 Indonesian and international celebrities including Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Islan, Jane Goodall, Sophia Latjuba, Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres. The coalition also has a global petition signed by more than 930,000 people all over the world.
As a Muslim-majority nation, the vast majority of Indonesians do not eat dog (it is considered haram or forbidden in Islam) but it is popular in among certain people in some parts of the country including Sulawesi, the capital Jakarta and the popular tourist island of Bali. Coconuts took a look into the dangers facing Bali’s native dogs, including the island’s illicit dog meat trade, as part of our Coconut’s TV on iFlix series.