Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan join campaigners calling for Indonesia to close down its Live Animal Markets
As the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to cause global chaos, sickness and fatalities, Indonesia is reporting its first human infections. International and Indonesian celebrities have joined forces with campaigners from the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition to call on the Indonesian government to take action to close its cruel and filthy live animal markets to safeguard human and animal health and welfare.
Popular cat meat restaurant turns into motorbike shop
The restaurant in Thai Binh – specialising in cat and dog meat dishes – first came to the attention of Change For Animals Foundation and FOUR PAWS following their nationwide research into the cat meat trade, which started in 2019. The restaurant owners, a Vietnamese couple, expressed their desperation to get out of the trade due to a desire to no longer kill animals.
Change for Animals Foundation and FOUR PAWS is helping the couple set up a second-hand motorbike shop with the condition that they will never again engage in the cat and dog meat trade. The restaurant in Thai Binh was profitable, popular among locals and workers for their lunch to-go boxes. Since eating dog and cat meat is often associated with various superstitions and the lunar cycle, the demand for cat and dog meat fluctuated depending on the lunar calendar.
Hanoi, 16th December 2020
Change for Animals Foundation and partners FOUR PAWS International succeeded in shutting down a cat and dog meat restaurant and associated slaughterhouse in Vietnam for the first time ever on 15th December, rescuing 20 cats and 5 dogs waiting slaughter. The restaurant was located in the city of Thai Binh, notorious for cat meat consumption, and claimed to serve around 240 animals a month, the majority of them cats. All rescued animals were taken to FOUR PAWS’ veterinary team in nearby Ninh Binh, where they were provided with urgent medical care. After initial treatment and rehabilitation, they will be put up for adoption. Every year, around five million dogs and one million cats are brutally slaughtered for their meat in Vietnam, many of them stolen pets.
Unlike the trade in dogs for meat, the cat meat trade goes unreported despite being considered a delicacy in Vietnam, making the trade highly lucrative. According to CFAF’s and FOUR PAWS’ research, a kilo of dog meat fetches between €6 ($7.30) and €9 ($10.90). Cat meat, on the other hand, can cost up to €11 ($13.30) per kilo – in the case of a black cat, even up to €20 ($24.30).
Every year millions of dogs and cats – both healthy and sick, owned and stray – are violently captured from the streets in Vietnam, crammed into tiny cages and transported unchecked across the country, with journeys often lasting days. To feed the appetite for dog and cat meat, animals are also imported from neighbouring China and Laos. This is not only incredibly cruel to the animals, but also blatantly violates public health recommendations.
The unsanitary conditions during transport as well as in slaughterhouses and restaurants, which often keep a wide variety of species for slaughter, encourage the emergence of zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19. In addition, the trade is linked to outbreaks of rabies and cholera.
Dog and cat meat trade: a legal grey area
In contrast to the dog meat trade, the hunting, slaughter, and consumption of cats was explicitly prohibited in Vietnam until January 2020. However, the law has been repealed and cat meat is more in demand than ever – especially in the north of the country. The trade, though, is often fraught with illegality and brutality. As the increasing demand can no longer be met from stray animals alone, dog and cat meat traders often steal pets as well. As a result, violent confrontations between pet owners and thieves frequently occur, which in the past have even proved fatal.
For the restaurant closure, rescue, and successful rehoming of the animals, Change for Animals Foundation and FOUR PAWS worked with local members of the Cats Matter Too coalition, including Hanoi Pet Rescue, Paws for Compassion and Vietnam Cat Welfare