Some of the biggest names in acting, music and sports from around the world have come together to sign a letter urging President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to end the brutal slaughter of millions of dogs and cats for the meat trade.

More than 90 celebrities, including Keely & Pierce Brosnan, Cameron Diaz, Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell, Kate Beckinsale, Elizabeth Hurley, Ricky Gervais, Moby, Leona Lewis, Courteney Cox, Alfie Boe, Lucy Lawless, Brian May, and Tyrese Gibson, are supporting the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition after its investigation exposed horrific treatment of dogs and cats being bludgeoned and blow-torched to death in Indonesia’s gruesome markets. The DMFI coalition comprises Animal Friends Jogja, Change for Animals Foundation, Humane Society International, Jakarta Animal Aid Network and FOUR PAWS.

Beyond the cruelty and brutality, the trade poses a serious threat to the health and safety of Indonesian citizens, due to the spread of rabies and the violence that has sprung up around gangs that forcibly take the dogs from their owners to sell them into the trade.

In writing to President Widodo, the celebrities point to the damage the trade is doing to Indonesia’s international reputation as a popular tourist destination, and urge him to take action to join the growing number of countries across Asia that have banned the trade in and consumption of dog and cat meat.

As well as participation from global celebrities, the campaign has also garnered support from some of Indonesia’s biggest stars, including singers Anggun Cipta Sasmi, Gamaliel Tapiheru, Cakra Khan, Nina Tamam, Melanie Subono, and actors Sophia Latjuba, Sarah Sechan and Dimas Beck.

The letter to President Widodo reads: "We were horrified by the findings of nationwide investigations by the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition, documenting the horrific reality of the trade: more than one million dogs and cats are transported throughout Indonesia to supply markets, slaughterhouses and restaurants. These animals, many of them stolen pets, are subjected to crude and brutal methods of capture, transport and slaughter, and the immense suffering and fear they must endure is heartbreaking and absolutely shocking.

The footage from markets in North Sulawesi is deplorable, and clearly documents the routine use of brutal handling and killing, including repeatedly bludgeoning animals over the head, killing animals in front of their terrified cage-mates, and blowtorching dogs whilst they are still alive. We are sure you will agree that the level of brutality towards these dogs and cats is shocking and demands your urgent attention."

The footage that moved celebrities to join the campaign was filmed by the DMFI coalition during nationwide investigations, including earlier this year at two of North Sulawesi’s estimated 200 traditional animal markets. It documents the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption where, in full view of their terrified cage-mates, dogs and cats are seen yanked by the neck with a noose-stick, and repeatedly bludgeoned over the head. Some dogs are then filmed being blow-torched whilst clearly still alive, a process done to remove the hair before butchering.

Humane Society International President Kitty Block says: “The brutality of Indonesia’s dog and cat meat trade is utterly deplorable and it needs to stop, now. We are so grateful to these global and Indonesian superstars who have come together to support Dog Meat-Free Indonesia’s efforts to end this cruel and dangerous industry, and we respectfully urge President Widodo to work with us on a solution that protects not only Indonesia’s dogs and cats but also the health of its people.”

Lola Webber, Director of Change For Animals Foundation explains: “This year, 2018, marks the Year of the Dog, and we stand united in our call on the central and provincial governments of Indonesia to take action against the dog meat trade to show the world that animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and to safeguard both animal and human health and safety.”

With rabies endemic in 26 of the nation’s 34 provinces, not only is the dog meat trade unimaginably cruel, the dog meat trade poses a very real and grave health risk to all sectors of society. The trade sees millions of dogs caught and killed every year, but it only takes one infected dog to cause an outbreak, with devastating consequences for both animals and people. The World Health Organization has explicitly highlighted the trade in dogs for human consumption as a contributing factor to the spread of rabies in Indonesia.

Karin Franken, Director of Jakarta Animal Aid Network says: “Most people in Indonesia don’t eat dog and cat meat; in fact, many Indonesians are highly critical of the trade because of the growing concerns for animal welfare, high incidence of dog theft and the fear created by the gangs who steal dogs from the streets and people’s homes.”

Bobby Fernando of Animal Friends Jogja says: “People are shocked by the brutality routinely used by those involved in the dog and cat meat trade. We need the world to join us in calling for an end to Indonesia’s dog and cat meat trade.”

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