Notorious market bans the sale of dog and cat meat

A vendor displays a cat for a buyer beside dogs in a cage at a market in Yulin city, southern China's Guangxi province, 20 June 2016. Picture: EPA/WU HONG

A vendor displays a cat for a buyer beside dogs in a cage at a market in Yulin city, southern China's Guangxi province, 20 June 2016. Picture: EPA/WU HONG

Published Aug 2, 2023


In a significant victory for animal welfare activists and the animals themselves, Indonesian authorities have announced the permanent closure of the infamous Tomohon Extreme Market, notorious for its slaughter and sale of dogs and cats for their meat.

The decision marks a historic moment, making it the first market in Southeast Asia to go dog and cat meat-free.

The campaign, led by the Humane Society International (HSI) and Indonesian groups under the banner of Dog Meat Free Indonesia, succeeded after years of persistent efforts and worldwide support.

According to The Manila Times, the inhumane treatment of dogs and cats at the market had outraged the public, both in Indonesia and globally. Images and videos showing cats and dogs being slaughtered at the market sparked widespread sympathy and compassion.

Many high-profile figures, including international celebrities Cameron Diaz, Ellen DeGeneres, and musicians Moby and Anggun, joined the cause by appealing to President Joko Widodo to close the market and put an end to the country’s involvement in the cruel trade.

Edwin Roring, regional secretary of the city of Tomohon, officially announced the market’s closure, vowing to rescue all remaining live dogs and cats from the slaughterhouse suppliers and provide them with sanctuaries.

“We hope that Tomohon will be totally free from dog and cat meat trades,” stated Roring during his address, encouraging people to consume more hygienic and rabies-free animal food sources like pork, beef, and chicken. He also pledged to deploy law enforcement officers to ensure no more dog and cat meat sellers operate in the city.

The Tomohon Extreme Market was once promoted as a tourist attraction, drawing visitors with its unusual offerings, including cat meat and carcasses of wild and protected species like bats and snakes. However, the inhumane practices have caused a stain on Indonesia’s reputation, with calls for action to end the trade gaining momentum over the years.

While the majority of Indonesians follow Islam, which considers dog products as forbidden, some other faiths in the country view dog meat as a traditional delicacy or believe it possesses special health properties.

As much as 7% of Indonesians, primarily in North Sulawesi, North Sumatra, and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, identify as Christian and consume dog meat.

Efforts to end the dog and cat meat trade have seen progress in recent years. Several regions, including Karanganyar district in Central Java and Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, have already implemented bans.

Animal welfare activist Frank Delano acknowledged the challenges faced in ending the practice in regions with deep-rooted hereditary traditions telling the Manila Times that “North Sulawesi, with its Christian majority, has seen resistance to relinquishing the consumption of dog and cat meat. Nonetheless, the closure of Tomohon Extreme Market signals hope for the future and sets a precedent for other markets to follow suit.”