Victory for Animals! Tomohon's Exotic Market Puts an End to Dog and Cat Meat Trade

Victory for Animals! Tomohon's Exotic Market Puts an End to Dog and Cat Meat Trade

The city of Tomohon in North Sulawesi has finally issued a policy banning the sale of dogs and cats for food in a number of markets in the area as of Friday, July 21. The policy has been welcomed by animal rights activists.

The ban is part of an agreement that aims to protect animals from cruelty such as beating and burning for human consumption. The agreement will also stop the extensive networks involved in the theft of dogs and cats, as well as the long-distance trafficking of animals across the island of Sulawesi. In addition to the agreement with the traders, the mayor of Tomohon, Caroll Senduk, has also signed an ordinance banning all future dog and cat meat trade.

The animal market in Tomohon was previously known as a place where exotic animals and pets were traded for human food, and Sulawesi is considered the center of Indonesia's dangerous and cruel dog and cat meat trade. Indonesia is one of the few countries in the world that still allows the sale of dog and cat meat due to tradition and culture in the region.

However, the practice has been heavily criticized by animal rights activists due to the cruel methods used by traders to slaughter the animals, including beating, hanging and burning the animal's fur while it is still alive. Criticism of extreme markets intensified after the coronavirus outbreak was first linked to wet markets in Wuhan City, China in 2020. This raised concerns in other regions that the virus could be transmitted from animals to humans.

According to Tomohon City Secretary Edwin Roring, the consumption of dog and cat meat is part of the ancestral tradition of the Minahasa people, the largest ethnic group in North Sulawesi. However, due to the spread of rabies cases and increasing international attention on the issue, the government has decided to ban the sale and consumption of dogs and cats.

Frank Delanu Manus, an activist with Animal Friends Manado Indonesia (AFMI), a local animal welfare group, responded positively to the mayor's order.

According to Frank, AFMI has found evidence of cruelty and criminality in the dog and cat trade in the Tomohon and Minahasa areas, including pet theft, illegal inter-provincial transportation of animals, and the sale of rabid dogs.

Frank said that the mayor's order on the sale of dogs and cats at Tomohon's Extreme Market is a step toward reducing the high consumption of meat from both animals in the region. AFMI hopes that in the future, Tomohon residents will no longer consume dogs and cats.

AFMI, together with animal welfare groups such as Humane Society International (HSI), has made continuous efforts to campaign for a ban on the consumption and trade of dogs despite various challenges. These efforts include rescuing dogs and cats from markets and several slaughterhouses in the North Sulawesi region.

Lola Webber, Director of HSI, praised the Tomohon government for their joint market surveillance, which showed that there were no more traders selling dogs and cats in the market. Lola said that this is very encouraging and she hopes that this government regulation can really be followed by the community, especially the traders.

While working with AFMI, HSI rescued dozens of dogs and cats from slaughterhouses in Tomohon. Once rescued, the animals were brought to the AFMI shelter for treatment and rabies vaccinations.

Lola also explained that based on data collected in Indonesia, HSI estimates that approximately 1 million dogs and hundreds of thousands of cats are killed for consumption each year. Across Asia, HSI estimates that approximately 30 million dogs are killed each year, including in countries such as China, South Korea, and several other Asian countries.

With the agreement in place, the animal rights group says it has the potential to save the lives of thousands of puppies on the island, where as many as 130,000 puppies are killed annually. In addition, HSI hopes the ban will increase pressure on the government to take more serious action to address the huge public health risks posed by the dog and cat meat trade throughout Indonesia.

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