Indonesia’s Tomohon Extreme Market ceases dog, cat meat trade


After years of relentless pressure from activists to halt the trade and its inhumane methods of slaughter, the notorious Tomohon Extreme Market in Indonesia has put an end to the sale of dog and cat meat, according to campaigners.

The shocking menu at the Tomohon Extreme Market on Sulawesi island included not only canine and feline meat but also bats, rats, snakes, and monkeys, creating a disturbing culinary spread that attracted global criticism. However, on Friday, a landmark decision was made, imposing a complete ban on the sale of cat and dog meat, marking the first time a market of this kind in Indonesia has yielded to such demands, reported animal rights group Humane Society International (HSI).

Describing the ban as a “historic agreement that will spare thousands of animals from being bludgeoned and blowtorched to death for human consumption,” HSI highlighted the significant progress in animal welfare that this action represents.

It’s worth noting that Indonesia is one of the few countries in the world that still allows the sale of dog and cat meat, citing local traditions and culture as reasons for its continuation.

As part of the agreement, the six remaining dog and cat meat traders at the market willingly pledged to cease their trade. Additionally, the mayor of Tomohon city officially signed a law enforcing the ban on any future trading of dog and cat meat at the market.

Lola Webber, HSI’s director of campaigns to end the dog meat trade, expressed her optimism about the impact of this unprecedented agreement, stating that it would disrupt the extensive network of traffickers, dog thieves, and slaughterers connected to the market.

The move is expected to save thousands of pups from a grim fate on the island, where an estimated 130,000 dogs are slaughtered annually for consumption.

Criticism of the market had intensified over the years due to the appalling methods used in slaughtering animals, involving beatings, hangings, and even blowtorching of fur while the creatures were still alive. Activists had become increasingly vocal, particularly after the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, which was initially linked to a wet market in Wuhan, China. This led to growing concerns that viruses could be transmitted from animals to humans elsewhere too.

Beyond the welfare implications, HSI and Indonesian rights groups were also motivated by the need to curb the spread of the deadly rabies virus, another serious consequence of the trade.

Elvianus Pongoh, a seller at the Tomohon market for 25 years, expressed his support for the ban, acknowledging that the time had come to put an end to the trade. He recounted the fear he witnessed in the eyes of countless dogs he had slaughtered, and the decision to cease the trade was a necessary step to protect both animals and the public.

The ban on dog and cat meat at the Tomohon Extreme Market marks a significant milestone in the ongoing fight for animal rights and welfare in Indonesia, setting a precedent that activists hope will inspire similar positive changes in other parts of the country and beyond.

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