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November 7, 2018

Downton Abbey star says down with dog & cat meat: Peter Egan joins Dog Meat-Free Indonesia campaigners to deliver 1 million petition signatures

Humane Society International/UK

  • Victoria Phan

LONDON—Downton Abbey star Peter Egan joined campaigners from the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition and Care2 to hand deliver a petition to the Indonesian Embassy calling for an end to the country’s brutal dog and cat meat trade. One million signatures were collected from around the world, to represent the more than 1 million dogs and hundreds of thousands of cats who are killed each year in Indonesia for human consumption.

DMFI is a coalition of international and Indonesian animal protection organisations comprising Change For Animals Foundation, Humane Society International, Animals Asia, FOUR PAWS, Animal Friends Jogja and Jakarta Animal Aid Network who have spent years documenting the brutality of the dog and cat meat trades, and campaigned tirelessly for an end to these horrors on grounds of both animal cruelty and risks to public health.

The petition hand-in follows a series of DMFI investigations exposing the heart-breaking horror of the trade. DMFI has filmed dogs being bound and gagged by traders, thrown into the back of trucks and bludgeoned over the head in markets. Investigations have also documented countless dogs and cats being blow-torched whilst still alive. Although dog and cat meat are only eaten by a small minority of people in Indonesia, the trades affect whole communities who often have their pets stolen by weapon-wielding dog and cat thieves. The trades also increase the risk of spreading disease, including deadly rabies.

In August this year, national and regional government officials agreed to issue a ban on the trades in dog and cat meat in Indonesia, and this was followed in October with a letter from the Central government calling on provincial governments to take action. DMFI campaigners have welcomed these moves, but say the need to turn pledges into action on the ground is urgent as thousands of dogs and cats every week continue to be stolen and brutalised for the trade.

Peter Egan added his name to the petition before DMFI campaigners presented it to the Maradona A. Runtukahu, First Secretary | Public Diplomacy, Press and Socio-Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. The First Secretary spoke with DMFI campaigners and confirmed the government’s commitment for a dog and cat meat trade ban, pledging to work with the campaigners on implementing practical steps to achieving an end to the cruel industry.

Peter Egan said: “It’s hard to overstate how appalling the treatment of dogs and cats is for the meat trade in Indonesia. These animals are treated with utter disregard for their welfare, all the while increasing the risk of spreading deadly diseases such as rabies that jeopardise the health of the entire nation. I share the deep desire of the vast majority of Indonesian citizens to see this dreadful trade ended once and for all, and so urge the government to take impactful action to end this cruelty.”

Peter is one of a growing list of celebrities who support the DMFI campaign. In January more than 90 stars including Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Islan, Elizabeth Hurley, Sophia Latjuba, Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Pierce Brosnan wrote a letter to President Joko Widodo calling for an end to the trade.

Claire Bass, representing the DMFI, said: “Indonesia’s government pledging action is great and we warmly welcome that, but implementing action on the ground is the only guarantee of sparing dogs and cats the brutal cruelty of the meat trade. Every one of our one million petition signatures symbolises the life of a dog lost to Indonesia’s brutal and dangerous meat trade each year. It has to stop and we hope our petition is a timely reminder to the government that every day we wait for a ban, Indonesia’s global reputation is damaged by this cruelty. The DMFI coalition stands ready to help the authorities in ending this trade, for the sake of animals and people alike.”

Similar petition hand-ins took place this week at Indonesian embassies in Australia, the USA, as well as the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

Facts:

  • It is estimated that just seven percent of Indonesia’s population consume dog meat, but in a country with the fourth largest population in the world at 261 million people, this amounts to a significant trade and a booming business in some parts of the country.
  • Indonesia also has the world’s 5th largest number of human rabies deaths in Asia each year. Rabies is a fatal disease with devastating societal and economic impacts. 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.
  • The trade in dogs for human consumption is in direct contravention of rabies control and elimination recommendations by key health advisory bodies, (including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), and in breach of national disease control and prevention regulations.
  • An estimated 30 million dogs are brutally killed and eaten each year across Asia in countries including Vietnam, China, South Korea and Indonesia. In other parts of Asia - Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore - laws are in place prohibiting the trade, on grounds of both animal welfare and human health/ disease control.

Photos & Video:

  • Download photos of the celebrity hand-in here.
  • Download video of Indonesia’s dog & cat meat trade here.
  • Download photos of Indonesia’s dog meat trade here.

ENDS

Media contacts:

  • United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International, whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423
  • Indonesia: DMFI Campaign Coordinator/Change for Animals Foundation Director Lola Webber, Lolawebber@changeforanimals.org, +62 813 3740 8768
  • Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) Co-Founder/ Programmes Director Karin Franken (Jakarta, Indonesia), jaan_adopt@yahoo.com, +62 82122487794
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