Video Shows 53 Dogs Headed for Meat Slaughterhouse Being Rescued

Video footage shows the moment that police and animal campaigners intercepted a truck filled with 53 terrified dogs as it arrived at an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse in Indonesia.

The dogs—mostly stolen pets—were tied up in sacks while some had their jaws bound together, according to a statement from animal rights group Humane Society International. Many of them were emaciated.

The dogs arrived at the slaughterhouse—where 30 dogs are bludgeoned to death every day—after enduring a grueling 10-hour journey, according to Humane Society International.

Police intercepted the truck and arrested a man suspected of being a dog meat trader on the Indonesian island of Java as part of the country's first large-scale police raid on an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse.

Officials had infiltrated a dog-trafficking operation on the island before moving to arrest the trader, who has allegedly been at the center of Java's dog meat trade for more than two decades.

The sting operation took place in the early hours of November 24 local time as the delivery truck pulled up to the slaughterhouse, which is located in Java's central Sukoharjo Regency.

Campaigners from the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition, which campaigns for a nationwide ban on the dog and cat meat trades, were at the scene to rescue any dogs that were alive. Unfortunately, one of the dogs had died on the journey.

Lola Webber, from Humane Society International (HSI)—a member of the DMFI coalition—was among the first people on the scene.

"My heart was pounding in my chest as we approached the truck, because I could hear the dogs' pitiful whimpering and then saw them all tied up in sacks, their soft muzzles squeezed shut with wire," she said in a statement. "They were extremely traumatized and frightened. Many of them were still wearing collars, and were no doubt many miles from home, likely stolen pets grabbed from the streets.

"They will have endured the most horrific and terrifying journey, thrown in the back of a truck to be taken to this disgusting and filthy slaughterhouse where they would have been bludgeoned over the head and their throats cut. To think of the fear they must have endured is just devastating. We got there just in the nick of time because the killing usually happens in the early hours."

Webber said the coalition was "immensely grateful" to the authorities for taking action.

DMFI hopes that the raid will send a strong message to other traders that they won't go unpunished and that it marks a turning point in their campaign to get the trade banned nationwide.

The Indonesian government has pledged to crack down on the dog meat trade, but only a handful of regional authorities, including Sukoharjo, have passed explicit bans in their jurisdictions. Opinion polls indicate that 93 percent of Indonesians support a nationwide dog meat ban, with only around 5 percent thought to eat the meat.

Tarjono Sapto Nugroho, head of crime investigation with the Sukoharjo police said in a statement: "We receive many complaints about illegal dog meat traders' operations. People do not want this trade or slaughter in their communities. Dogs are friends, not food, and the trade is already illegal and is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

"Dog meat consumption is considered culture by some, but cultures evolve and so must we. So we initiated this interception and confiscation to protect our communities and to support the Central Javan government's efforts to eradicate the dog meat eating culture and trade."

The surviving dogs from the latest rescue received emergency treatment before being taken to a temporary shelter, where they will be nursed back to health. The coalition will try and reunite them with their owners where possible, although the chances of success are likely to be slim.

The coalition hopes that some of the dogs will be adopted locally while others will be flown to HSI's temporary shelter in Canada, where efforts will be made to re-house the canines.

53 dogs rescued from meat trade
Police rescued 53 dogs from the illegal dog meat trade Sukoharjo Regency, Central Java province, Indonesia, on November 24, 2021 Yoma Times Suryadi/AP Images for HSI