Dozens of dogs have been saved from being turned into dog meat after they were discovered tied up in sacks in the back of a truck – just as they arrived at an Indonesian slaughterhouse.
Shocking video shows the moment police and animal campaigners intercepted the meat trader’s vehicle in Sukoharjo, on the Indonesian island of Java, and found 53 dogs whining and shaking in fear.
The terrified dogs, mostly stolen pets with some still wearing collars, were found tied in sacks and their muzzles bound tightly with string and cable ties after enduring a gruelling 10 hour journey.
The truck was stopped by police in the early hours of Wednesday morning just as it arrived at an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse where 30 dogs are bludgeoned to death every day and the driver was arrested on suspicion of being a dog meat trader.
Campaigners from Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition found the dogs tied up in hessian sacks and most of the canines were emaciated, and less than one year of age. One dog died during the 10 hour journey.
Lola Webber, who was one of the first campaigners at the scene, said she could hear the dogs whimpering inside the truck as she approached.
‘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,’ Webber, from the campaign group Humane Society International, said.
‘They were extremely traumatised and frightened.’
She added: ‘We got there just in the nick of time because the killing usually happens in the early hours. We are immensely grateful to the authorities for taking action.’
Police in Sukoharjo had infiltrated a dog trafficking operation in Java in order to target the suspected dog meat trader, who has not been identified, as part of the country’s first large-scale police raid on an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse.
The trader has allegedly been at the centre of the dog meat trade spanning the island of Java for more than 20 years.
He is suspected of coordinating shipments of hundreds of dogs for slaughter every month, and killing on average 30 dogs a day.
Webber, speaking about the rescue operation, said: ‘Many of the dogs 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.’
The 53 dogs rescued from the slaughterhouse received emergency veterinary treatment from the campaigners before travelling back to a temporary shelter where they will be cared for.
It is unlikely the dogs will be reunited with their families, but campaigners are making local appeals. If they are unable to find their owners, they will be adopted in Indonesia, with some flown out to a shelter in Canada where they can be adopted.
In Indonesia, there is no nationwide ban on the dog meat trade. While the government has pledged to crack down on the trade, it has been regional governments that have so far taken action.
Tarjono Sapto Nugroho, Head of Crime Investigation of Sukoharjo police, said: ‘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.’