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Ending the Dog Meat Trade in Indonesia: Hero’s Story

As a founding member of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, we spent many long months investigating the inner-workings of the dog meat trade throughout Indonesia…. As people who do what we do because we care so passionately about animals, doing investigations never gets any easier… It is soul-destroying and heart-breaking work, but is essential in documenting the reality of the trade so that we are best-positioned to fight it.. and ultimately realise our goal – and dream – of ending the dog meat trade, that, in Indonesia alone, results in the unimaginable suffering of an estimated 1 million dogs every year…

Why Hero?

After endless months of witnessing the cruelty and suffering, we had the opportunity to save one dog… A dog we named “Hero”. As a “breed” dog, our undercover investigator took the opportunity to convince the trader that he wanted to take Hero, without blowing his cover. The trader accepted the offer, not realising that to us, Hero was priceless… but not because of his weight on the scales or because of his genetics… Simply because his life matters. To us, Hero has came to symbolise hope for all those we are fighting for, and for those we were unable to save…

Hero is still undergoing intensive therapy at the wonderful Jakarta Animal Aid Network’s veterinary clinic. He cannot walk properly yet because of various injuries.. likely ones that happened many years ago and which is why the owner had neglected him, leaving him to suffer and deteriorate in a cage. But he now has a “walking frame” to help him gain strength and learn to walk again, and he is adored by everyone who meets him.. He loves attention and nuzzles you incessantly for strokes and gentle words.. and he loves his treats!

Hero already has an adopter lined up; who is paying for his ongoing treatment and visits him regularly.. and as soon as Hero has gained a bit more strength, he will be going home…

Why don’t you save them all?

People often ask us after seeing the footage of the dog meat trade, “why didn’t you save them? How could you just stand there and watch?” They are questions that hurt profoundly… we all do what we do because we care deeply and passionately; and for us, walking away and not being able to save them, goes against all that we are and all that we believe in.. But it is only by documenting the reality of the trade – a trade that is affecting thousands of dogs every day – that we can get the evidence needed to change hearts and minds.. and legislation… and this is what will end the suffering in the end for all dogs that will never be caught by traders and never suffer in slaughterhouses…

Rescued animals inspire hope and change, conquering hearts and minds... and they help to heal hearts that can sometimes feel broken beyond repair. As a very dear friend of mine says, 'they save us as much as we save them'.

Change is coming in Indonesia and throughout Asia… Never before has the dog meat trade or the consumption of dog meat been questioned the way it is now. People are turning their backs on a trade and a practice that can no longer hide behind a defense of ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’. It is quite simply a question of animal cruelty.

Earlier this month, the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition launched our first major public awareness campaign at a press conference in Jakarta. We presented the findings of our investigations to the national and international media; and our wonderful Indonesian celebrity ambassadors, Sophia Latjuba and Gamaliel Tapiheru, spoke passionately about their love of dogs and wish for an end to the inherently cruel trade. Their message was clear: “claims of culture and tradition by proponents of the dog meat trade can never be an excuse for cruelty”.

We won’t stop this fight until the last dog slaughterhouse is closed, until never again is a dog’s value weighed on scales, and until the dog meat trade is banished to the history books. But everyone has a role to play in making this a reality.

So whilst we fight on, for Hero, we have been part of the most amazing moment where all his suffering ended, and that is a victory against this horrific trade.

Thank you for joining us in this important fight.

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