New year, new life in America for 24 dogs saved from Indonesia’s brutal dog meat trade at Tomohon ‘Extreme’ market

Humane Society International / Indonesia

Garry Lotulung/AP Images for HSI

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Twenty four dogs rescued from a slaughterhouse at Indonesia’s Tomohon “Extreme” Market in North Sulawesi province have flown from Indonesia to the United States in search of loving families. Poppy, Romeo, Wendy, Mia, Rocky and friends were saved by animal charities Humane Society International and Animal Friends Manado Indonesia after the organizations negotiated an historic ban on the dog and cat meat trades at the Tomohon market in July last year.

HSI transported the 24 dogs, including Abbie, Lano, Jilly, Oliver and Root,  to its care and rehabilitation center near Washington, D.C., in the United States, where they are now receiving soft beds, nutritious food, toys, veterinary care and time to heal from their ordeal. After this initial phase, they will be placed with shelter and rescue partners where they will be prepared for adoption into loving homes.

  • Photos/video of their journey to the USA HERE
  • Photos/video of their rescue HERE

On the day the market ban came into force, the HSI and AFMI campaigners saved a total of 25 dogs and three cats from being bludgeoned and blowtorched to death for human consumption. One dog named Daisy was subsequently adopted by HSI rescuer Lola Webber who lives in Indonesia, and all three cats also found loving homes on the island country. More than 130,000 dogs and countless cats annually are slaughtered in public markets across Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, with more than 1 million dogs a year killed for the meat trade nationwide.

Lola Webber, HSI’s director of Ending Dog Meat campaigns, said: “For dogs like Daisy, change came literally just in time in Tomohon. As proud adopter of Daisy, who utterly stole my heart when we rescued her, I am filled with hope for these wonderful dogs as they begin their journey to find happy homes in the United States. Daisy was at one of the slaughterhouses we closed down that supplied Tomohon Extreme Market, and which alone had killed hundreds of these terrified animals every week for years. It was a filthy place with a blood-stained floor and emaciated dogs crammed in steel cages, peering out desperately. I will never forget the look of fear in their eyes.

These poor animals witnessed and experienced unimaginable brutality and traumatizing cruelty. But I know how transformative love can be for dogs and cats rescued from the meat trade. Sweet Daisy is living proof that with kindness, patience and compassion, these dogs can look forward to happy futures surrounded by families who love them. Daisy is adored by my husband and me and our four children, and is living the life all dogs deserve. I can’t wait to see the same happy ending for Romeo, Poppy, Rocky and friends.”

The ban at Tomohon market introduced by Mayor Caroll Senduk not only shut down this cruel trade at the market itself, but also impacted the vast network of animal thieves and traffickers across the entire province for whom sales at the market were a prime motivation. As a leading member of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, HSI has helped achieve bans on the dog and cat meat trades in 40 cities and regencies so far, with provinces also pledging action to eradicate the trade, and the charity aims for further victories in 2024. The ultimate goal is a nationwide ban on the dog and cat meat trades, which HSI hopes Indonesia’s policy makers will feel inspired to introduce following the ban just passed in South Korea.

Ms Webber says: “In addition to the immense animal suffering the dog and cat meat trades cause, they also pose a very real danger to public health, particularly through the spread of the deadly rabies virus. Dog capture, transport, killing, butchery and consumption can all facilitate rabies transmission, and rabies-positive dogs have been found for sale at markets throughout Indonesia. So, there are compelling animal and human welfare reasons for Indonesia to be the next country in Asia to finally ban this trade.”

In November last year a host of Hollywood and Indonesian stars wrote a letter to President Joko Widodo urging him to ban the dog and cat meat trades. The letter, signed by stars including Kim Basinger, Courteney Cox, Andie McDowell, Dame Judi Dench, Alicia Silverstone, Leona Lewis OBE, Daisy Fuentes, Billie Eilish, Charlize Theron and Clint Eastwood, alongside Indonesian mega-stars Bubah Alfian, Cinta Laura Kiehl, D.J Bryant, Davina Veronica, Luna Maya, Prilly Latuconsia, called for a ban “so that we can soon celebrate a truly dog and cat meat-free Indonesia.”  The stars went on to say: “We stand strong with the overwhelming majority of Indonesian citizens and international visitors who oppose the dog and cat meat trades and believe in protecting animals from cruelty and exploitation.”

HSI’s rescues and dog transports are conducted in compliance with national and local animal and public health recommendations. Following their rescue, the animals were evaluated by a veterinarian, treated for endo- and ectoparasites, vaccinated against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, parainfluenza, leptospira and screened for illness as needed to ensure the health of each animal and to comply with international export and import requirements. On arrival in the United States, the dogs were further cleared by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention before being received at the care and rehabilitation center.

Download photos and video of the dogs and cats being rescued here

Download photos and video of the dogs on their Indonesia to USA journey here

Download photos and video of the dog meat trade at Tomohon Extreme Market (May 2023) here

A list of the shelter and rescue partners at which the dogs are placed will be available here once that information becomes available.


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