Investigative footage reveals widespread abuse to dogs — who are often people’s companion animals — indiscriminately rounded up from the streets, put in sacks with their mouths strapped shut, and cruelty to turtles, fish, and others, whose bodies are dismembered and sold.
Video footage obtained from multiple animal markets in Sumatra in June, 2022 reveals dogs stuffed into small sacks with their mouths strapped shut, and others chained inside metal crates waiting to be killed. Bats, birds, and a chicken were seen crammed in metal cages stacked on top of one another, and a live lizard who had her mouth tied shut and legs tied together was sold alongside turtles whose bodies had been hacked apart. At exotic pet markets, birds, bats, monkeys, cats, and more were seen kept in tiny, filthy cages. Not only is this cruel, but these markets are cesspools of filth and could breed the next pandemic.
During the investigation, the mayor of Medan—North Sumatra’s capital and largest city—circulated a letter banning the dog meat trade. This is a huge step in the right direction, but it won’t stop the industry. Our investigator still witnessed widespread cruelty to dogs throughout the city, including dogs stuffed in sacks and stacked on top of one another in transport, and dogs who were killed by having their throats slit and then torched to have their fur removed.
Some people who eat dogs claim to consume them to “prevent” Dengue fever and Covid-19, saying dog meat will “fight fatigue and make them stronger.” In reality, cramming sick and stressed dogs (or any animal) into small cages and killing them in blood-soaked meat markets creates the perfect breeding grounds for new disease, and could create the next pandemic.
As long as these cruel and filthy markets continue to operate, countless dogs, turtles, bats, lizards, birds, and others will continue to suffer in cramped, disease-ridden conditions before being violently killed, and public health will remain at risk. It’s crucial that live markets be shut down immediately in Indonesia and around the world. Please join LFT in urging the Sumatran government to shut down all live markets and ban the dog meat trade statewide!
Special thanks to photographer Aaron Gekoski, videographer Marie Lozano, and Sumatran NGO Toba Animal Friends
In March 2023, investigators for Lady Freethinker returned to Sumatra and documented apparently sick, scarred, and emaciated dogs, some pregnant, being transported 17 hours for slaughter, getting yanked off a truck with a long snare pole, and then being shoved violently into burlap sacks that were tied shut.
The terrified dogs – who had been reportedly hauled from West Sumatra to North Sumatra – were packed into the truck with no food or water and were surrounded by their own waste during transport, according to LFT’s investigator. The investigator also reported there was no evidence of paperwork for any of the dogs, as required by Law No. 16 of 1992 Concerning Animal, Fish and Plant Quarantine for animals entering a new Indonesian territory.
Failing to quarantine animals risks public health too, as there is no way of knowing if the dogs are carrying a deadly virus that could be passed to humans, such as rabies.
We’re renewing our call to urge Sumatran officials to ban the dog meat trade and we’re also calling on the Indonesia Agriculture Quarantine Agency to investigate dog transport activity and shut down all illegal operations immediately to help save dogs’ lives and to protect public health.