London/Indonesia, 12 April 2022 – A dog trafficker in Indonesia involved in the supply and slaughter of dogs for human consumption has been found guilty of breaking the law and sentenced to a record 17 months in jail. Despite a national government declaration that dogs are not considered food in Indonesia, this is only the country’s second conviction of a dog trafficker.
Campaigners from the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition hope it signals a new determination by the authorities to crack down on the cruel and dangerous trade.
DMFI who attended the police interception at the slaughterhouse and took all surviving dogs into their care, welcomed the conviction for sending the strongest signal yet to dog traders across Indonesia that the dog meat business is illegal and will be punished.
The record conviction of Guruh Tri Susilo follows a police interception last year of a truck carrying more than 50 terrified dogs as they arrived at a makeshift slaughterhouse in Sukoharjo. The owner of the slaughterhouse is awaiting trial, with a sentence reading expected at the end of April.
This comes at a time where Indonesia is the political limelight by having the Presidency of the G20 and hosting the 17th annual event later this year in Bali.
“This is another step in the right direction. All of the eyes of the world will be on Indonesia in just a few months when it hosts the G20, with Global Health being its key priority. With Indonesia still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and wanting to be seen as global trading hub, it is essential President Widodo cracks down further to stop this dangerous and illegal trade.”
Karen O´Malley, Dog and Cat Meat Trade Programme Manager, FOUR PAWS
(Part of DMFI)
In recognition of the grave risks to animal welfare and public health and safety, an ever-growing number of cities and regencies in Central Java have taken the matter into their own hands passing local regulations explicitly prohibiting the dog meat trade throughout their jurisdictions, including Sukoharjo and the Central Javan provincial capital of Semarang. Campaigners hope that this case will shine a light on the dog meat trade and encourage central, provincial, regency and city leaders to take stronger action.
The Dog Meat Free Indonesia campaign is led by Change For Animals Foundation, Animal Friends Jogja, Humane Society International, Jakarta Animal Aid Network and FOUR PAWS. DMFI has been campaigning for years for a nationwide ban on the dangerous and illegal trade, slaughter and sale of dogs for human consumption.
Nationwide opinion polls conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by DMFI show that only a small minority of Indonesians (4.5%) ever consume dog meat, and 93% of all Indonesians support a ban. Despite this, over one million dogs are still illegally stolen, trafficked, slaughtered and sold for human consumption every year across Indonesia. Without a nationwide ban, the relevant laws and regulations that can be applied have weak penalties, and enforcement is rare, which enables the traders to continue to operate.
Dog meat trade facts
There are widely publicised reports directly linking the dog meat trade to rabies transmission in many parts of Asia where the dog meat trade operates, including Indonesia. Scientific reports have documented rabies-positive dogs being sold and slaughtered in markets in Indonesia, as well as in restaurants and slaughterhouses in China and Viet Nam.
Dog theft for the meat trade is a serious problem in Indonesia. Dog Meat Free Indonesia has interviewed many residents who have described their terrifying ordeal with armed traders stealing their pets at night. Despite the obvious law-breaking, thefts are rarely taken seriously by law enforcement, so the thieves often go unpunished.
Across Asia, opposition to the dog and cat meat trades is increasing, with an ever-growing number of countries and territories (Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and two major cities in mainland China) banning the trade in and slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs. In September 2021, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in suggested it could be time to consider a dog meat ban, and a government-initiated task force is currently considering the issue. President Elect Yoon Suk-yeol has also stated he would not oppose a dog meat ban provided there is social consensus.
The Dog Meat Free Indonesia campaign comprises Humane Society International, Animals Asia, FOUR PAWS, Animal Friends Jogja and Jakarta Animal Aid Network. Their campaign has received support from global and Indonesian superstars including a letter to President Joko Widodo in 2018 calling for action to end the country’s dog and cat meat trades signed by Simon Cowell, Sophia Latjuba, Yeslin Wang, Nadia Mulya, Lawrence Enzela, Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Islan, Ellen DeGeneres and Pierce Brosnan.