Tourists on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali may be unknowingly eating dog meat, activists have said, highlighting a rampant trade that is largely hidden from public and official scrutiny.
Up to 100,000 dogs are slaughtered for consumption every year in Bali using inhumane and unsanitary methods, according to Animals Australia (AA), an NGO that conducted a month-long investigation into the practices of dog catchers, slaughterhouses, and street food vendors.
“The dog meat trade in Bali is breaching local food safety and animal cruelty laws,” AA’s Lyn White said in a statement that accompanied video footage of dogs being captured and mistreated. Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the footage, which also showed vendors selling meat marked “RW” which stands for “dog meat” in Bahasa Indonesia.
The reports also allege that tourists are unknowingly consuming dog meat.
“They (Australians) won’t come if they keep hearing the story: people are eating dogs,” said one Australian tourist, Colin Carr.
Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika denied allegations that dogs were being mistreated and that their meat was being sold at street stalls.
“The news reports on social media are wrong, I have checked,” he told Reuters.
“The reports say dogs in Bali are killed brutally and sold as ‘satay’, this is not true,” he said, referring to a popular skewered meat dish.
Dog meat is popular in some parts of Indonesia and in other Asian countries like China and Vietnam.
Linda Buller, founder of Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre, has been working for years against the illegal dog trade in Bali.
“We’ve heard the government is holding a summit on dog meat consumption in the second week of July and this is a positive thing to do,” Buller said in an interview with Reuters.
“But I’m absolutely sure the international outcry will continue until the government formally announces that they will ban the consumption of dog meat.”
She said the Balinese, a majority Hindu population, do not have a tradition of eating dogs due to their religion, and that the practice was brought in by people who moved here from other parts of Indonesia. The dog meat trade increased because people started stealing dogs to sell to dog meat vendors for extra income, she said.
“The difference is, it is not normal in Bali to eat dog, it’s normal to eat dogs maybe in China, in Vietnam that in Bali it’s never been a normal thing,” Buller said. “So it’s only grown over the last 10 years, so I don’t think it is a difficult thing to actually stop it.”
Animal rights groups are expected to hold discussions with the Bali government later this month and urge them to end the trade.