Indonesia’s Regency of Karanganyar in Java has pledged an action plan to end its brutal dog meat trade, a move that will save almost 2,000 dogs from slaughter and human consumption each month.

The move comes following a shocking investigation by campaign coalition Dog Meat Free Indonesia, and the victory has been welcomed by DMFI celebrity ambassadors Ricky Gervais and actor Peter Egan with a short video message.

Ricky Gervais says: “Thank you Juliyatmono Bupati for saving all those beautiful dogs.”

Peter Egan says: “Thank you Bupati Juliyatmono for helping to save our dogs and the health of the Indonesian people. Thank you.”

In response Bupati Juliyatmono of Karanganyar issued his own video message announcing the plan to eliminate the dog meat trade, and personally thanking Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan.

The action plan includes closing every stall selling dog meat in the regency and the creation of alternative livelihoods for those people currently reliant on the trade. DMFI campaigners are optimistic that this will mark the start of a nationwide movement to tackle this illegal and dangerous trade. In fact, the local government of another Indonesian city, YogYakarta, has already followed suit and pledged its own dog meat ban.

However, not all regional governments are so progressive. The Governor of North Sulawesi, Olly Dondokambey, has consistently refused to act, even refuting animal cruelty despite video evidence of dogs and cats being bludgeoned and blow-torched alive in the region’s animal markets. North Sulawesi remains a hotbed of dog and cat meat trade activity with around 200 “extreme” animal markets often visited by unsuspecting tourists.

Wendy Higgins from Humane Society International, a DMFI coalition member group, said: “Indonesia is a popular tourist destination for millions of travelers including about 360,000 Brits each year, but the country’s natural beauty is hiding an ugly secret that many tourists will be unaware of. Visiting local markets is often promoted by tour guides but innocent travelers could be exposing themselves to horrific scenes of animal cruelty as well as dangerous diseases like rabies. The national government has issued a crackdown but for as long as local regions like North Sulawesi simply ignore that, the killing and the risk to tourists continues.”

An estimated 12 million tourists visit Indonesia each year—including over 1 million Australians, and an estimated 360,000 from the United Kingdom, 330,000 from the United States, and between 200,000 and 260,000 each from the Netherlands, Germany and France.

A series of Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition investigations showed dogs being beaten and strung upside down to bleed out whilst still conscious, and in full view of other terrified dogs bound and caged who await their turn.

Despite the lack of action by North Sulawesi, the progress being made in Karanganyar and Yogyakarta gives DMFI campaigners cause for hope. In Karanganyar, every one of the estimated more than thirty dog meat-selling stalls throughout the regency will be closed, and the local government has already hosted a meeting with the traders to announce the ban and to discuss alternative livelihood opportunities, a first of its kind in Java. The Yogyakarta Provincial Government has separately drafted a Mayor’s Regulation for approval through which a ban on dog meat would be implemented.

When announcing the Karanganyar action plan, local officials warned of the grave risks to public health the dog meat trade poses. Whilst dog meat is consumed by only a minority (7%) of Indonesia’s entire population, it remains a significant threat to public health, with rabies transmission being of particularly grave concern.

Indonesia has the world’s 5th largest number of human rabies deaths in Asia each year, and it is no coincidence that the provinces and regencies with the greatest demand for dog meat are also those with the highest prevalence of rabies. North Sulawesi Province continues to have some of the highest numbers of human deaths attributed to rabies in Indonesia.

Globally, opposition to the dog and cat meat trades is increasing, with an ever-growing number of countries and territories in the region (Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand) and internationally (the United States) banning the trade in and slaughter, sale, consumption of dogs.

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