Dogs, cats slaughtered: 'Extreme' markets horrify activists
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Huddled together and trembling, live dogs and cats watch the scene unfolding before their eyes with the knowledge that their turn will come. One by one, their cage mates are beaten over the head, thrown to the ground and blow-torched alive.
This scene is routine at the live extreme animal markets in North Sulawesi, Indonesia where thousands of dogs and cats are slaughtered every week.
Non-profit animal welfare organizations have demanded the Indonesian government to shut down the "extreme" markets, which had previously been promoted as must-see attractions to visitors by local authorities and tour operators.
On a recent rescue mission to the Langowan market in North Sulawesi, campaign coordinator and founder of Change for Animals Foundation, Lola Webber described the scene as animals having “absolute terror in their eyes" and "the thumping of the club as they were bludgeoned, their screams of pain, and the smell of burning hair and flesh" as "appalling and unforgettable.”
"It was like walking through hell," she said.
Change for Animals Foundations is part of the Dog-Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition – along with Animal Friends Jogja, Humane Society International and Jakarta Animals Aid Network – which is leading the charge to put an end to the markets.
Despite the gruesome scenes, the Tomohon extreme market, also located in North Sulawesi, was previously listed as a “must see” travel destination by travel site TripAdvisor, and continues to be publicized as a tourist attraction.
It had only been taken down "following a complaint by the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition," DMFI said in a press release.
“Most travelers would be horrified at the promotion of such horrific markets which trivialise the very serious nature of the animal suffering that takes place there," said Karin Franken of Jakarta Animal Aid Network. "The traders who beat and burn these animals alive show total indifference to their pain and anguish, and even appear to play up to the crowds. It’s a sickening display that should never be seen as entertainment."
DMFI also noted that some of the visitors in the market are young children between 2 and 10 years old.
Dr. Mary Lou Randour, the senior advisor for Animal Cruelty Programs at the Animal Welfare, warned against "long-lasting adverse effects" for children, adding “exposure to violence at a young age can alter neurons, the building blocks of the brain, negatively affecting capacity for emotional regulation, physical health, cognitive capacity, and behavior control."
In addition to live dogs and cats, illegally-caught species of bats, snakes and other reptiles are readily available at these markets.
Animal Friends Manado Indonesia estimates that some 80% of these animals are imported from other provinces, although the country’s anti-rabies law bans the movement of dogs across provincial borders.
These prohibited activities pose a serious risk to public health and breach rabies elimination recommendations by leading health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
In 2007, research conducted among markets in North Sulawesi, including Manado, Airmadidi and Langowa, revealed that between 7.8% to 10.6% of dogs sold for human consumption were infected with rabies.
A representative from the Humane Society International, Kelly O' Meara, added that the markets, with maggots, blood, bits of flesh, and smashed brain matter, naturally increases the risk of the spread of other diseases.
The DMFI coalition said it has written to local and central governments of Indonesia, but "despite requests for meetings with North Sulawesi
provincial governemnt numerous times, officials have so far refused to meet with our campaigners." – Rappler.com