Clubbed to death, blowtorched: Indonesia’s dog-eating culture
WARNING: Graphic photos
JAKARTA, Indonesia – When I was searching for apartments in Jakarta, I often asked whether or not their buildings were dog-friendly. This, because I planned to fly my beloved Boston Terrier Quincy to Indonesia, so he could live with me.
Of about 10 apartment complexes I’ve asked, only one is pet-friendly.
I joked with friends that it’s because Indonesians eat dogs – only for media to report a few days later that Jakarta is among the highest consumers of dog meat in Indonesia. Just this week, the Marine Agriculture and Food Security Agency said around 40,000 dogs are delivered to Jakarta daily to compensate for the demand for dog meat.
Eating dogs is legal in Indonesia, which remains one of the few countries in the world where dog meat is a delicacy. While the country is predominantly Muslim, and eating dogs is considered haram or strictly forbidden in Islam, Christian minorities and ethnic groups across the country enjoy eating dogs.
Indonesians eat dogs because men believe it is an aphrodisiac. Others simply like the taste of dog meat, saying it is different from pork or chicken.
“It tastes kind of hot,” a Chinese Indonesian woman told me. “Perfect to complement beer drinks.” She said she prefers her dog meat with “lots of herbs and thick liquid.”
Asked whether she feels bad about eating dogs, she said it's a cultural dish. “I eat it just to honor the culture, usually during a party,” she said, adding she does so to honor the host.
She admitted that she feels guilty sometimes, but said “we just need to trick our mind by thinking that the dog that was killed wasn’t one of those cute dogs, but a (stray) dog.”
In Indonesia, Tomohon market in Sulawesi island is notorious for selling all types of meat including dogs, cats, bats and snakes.
The way dogs are cooked is brutal.
Yanked by their necks, they are then clubbed on the head until they are unconscious, before they are thrown to the floor and blowtorched to death. Other dogs are still moving while they are being burned alive.
All this, while other dogs are caged nearby, watching the slaughter take place before their eyes, and waiting for their turn. In pictures I’ve seen, the fear in the eyes of the dogs is visible.
Animal protection groups in Indonesia claim the dogs are mostly strays, caught or lassoed on the streets, before being thrown in cages in markets. But there have also been stories of dogs being snatched from their owners and sold in markets.
Customers then come and personally pick a dog from the cages and watch as their dog of choice is killed and burned before them. When dead, their legs are often chopped off before customers take them home.
A whole dog in Tomohon market is sold for about 250,000 rupiah, or $17.
The same Indonesian woman explained to me that “dog is cheaper” and is “food for the poor.”
“There’s a sensation of hunt and cook your own food then make a feast out of it.... Grab a beer and celebrate. (It’s) great for a gathering.”
Around Indonesia, dog dishes are served in various ways, depending on the customer’s taste and preference.
Other dogs are roasted, like pigs over fire. Saksang style means the dog is cooked in its own blood. Rica-rica is dog seasoned with chili peppers, shallots, garlic, ginger, salt and sugar. There are even Korean-style dog bbqs and dogs served hot pot style. Others are fried, served sate-style, and spiced.
In Indonesia, despite animal welfare group campaigns, there is no serious consideration by the government to prohibit dog meat consumption. Instead, Jakarta is considering the regulation of dog meat, for fear of rabies spreading in the capital.
“We are seriously considering the idea of regulating [the meat distribution], as Jakarta has been free from rabies since 2004,” Marine Agriculture and Food Security Agency head Darjamuni is quoted as saying.
Most Indonesians accept dog-eating by certain groups as a normal tradition.
For a dog-owner like myself, the thought of dogs being burned alive is crushing.
Quincy, I know, feels fear and joy, even jealousy. He barks like a maniac in envy when I pet other dogs. He is beyond himself with happiness when he sees me, running around and squealing with excitement, and stares sadly and whimpers when I leave.
But until the practice of dog-eating in Indonesia ends, I will keep him in the Philippines, because I refuse to bring him to a country where many still have little respect for his life. – Rappler.com
Natashya Gutierrez is Rappler Indonesia's Bureau Chief. She loves her dog Quincy.
For more information please visit: www.saynotodogmeat.net, JAAN Indonesia (Local Indonesian animal charity) http://www.jakartaanimalaid.com/ and sign this Indonesian Petition against dog and cat meat trade.