Australian tourists are unknowingly being fed dog meat in Bali, a major investigation has revealed.
Evidence provided to ABC’s 7.30 program from an investigation led by Animals Australia (AA) has uncovered the brutal dog meat trade in the popular holiday destination, visited by more than 1 million Australians every year.
The undercover investigation found that dogs are brutally caught, captured and then butchered before being sold to unwitting tourists on the street or in restaurants.
Eating dog meat is not illegal on the Indonesian island — some Balinese locals believe dog meat is good for their health — but the barbaric way in which the dog meat trade operates for human consumption is, according to Animals Australia’s campaign director Lyn White.
“The dog-meat trade breaches animal cruelty laws and food safety laws. That is a statement of fact,” she told the investigation.
‘NOTHING PREPARED ME FOR THIS’
Over four months, an undercover investigator for Animals Australia infiltrated the dog meat trade in Bali, posing as documentary maker interested in local cuisine. To protect his identity, the ABC have called him ‘Luke’.
Luke discovered that thousands of dogs are being caught and bludgeoned to death, hung, poisoned, or shot.
One dog catcher, Pak Puris, 83, told Luke he has killed thousands of dogs alone.
“Twelve a week,” he said, through a translator.
For Luke, the operation was far worse than he could have imagined.
“The catching was fiercely aggressive. The dogs screamed and writhed as the noose strangled them,” he said.
“Some tried to bite through the ties to free themselves but with their muzzles lashed, their attempts were futile.”
Balinese villagers helped to capture the dogs, and were paid handsomely to do so, accepting 100,000Rp ($10) for the animals they caught.
“As an animal cruelty investigator, I have trained myself to cope with cruelty, but nothing prepared me for the brutal catching of dogs in the village,” Luke said.
Captured dogs are then taken to be bludgeoned to death, the most savage fate of the dog meat trade.
These dogs are taken and crammed into small cages, left to lie in their own urine and faeces. They are then bludgeoned to a slow and painful death with a metal pole.
On other occasions, dogs are poisoned by food laced with cyanide — which also took “many, agonising minutes” — hung from trees, or in a best-case scenario, shot.
TOURISTS HAVE NO IDEA
Dog meat is then often sold to unwitting tourists who have no idea they are ordering or eating an animals which is known and loved as a family pet back home.
Behind 66 Beach in the tourist area of Seminyak, in southern Bali, a street vendor admits he’s selling dog to the undercover AA investigation.
“Dog satay,” the vendor replies when asked what he is selling.
But to tourists, it’s a different story. When a group of Australian tourists ask if it is satay chicken, not dog, the vendor replies “no, not dog”.
Misled, they unknowingly eat the dog meat.
And it’s not just happening on the street either, the investigation found specialty restaurants sell dog meat too.
“Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realising is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served,” Ms White said.
There are now serious health concerns for tourists surrounding the dog meat trade in Bali.
Doctor Andrew Dawson, director of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre and head of toxicology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, told ABC’s 7.30 that if a dog is poisoned with cyanide
“Firstly, cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog’s body.
“The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat.”
The clinical toxicologist told the investigation that concentrations of cyanide in the flesh of the dog commonly used in a satay stick could result in minor symptoms such as “feeling nauseated, diarrhoea, aches in the muscles and shortness of breath”.
But if tourists were to eat it often, it could cause “organ damage and damage to the nerves”.
In a worst-case scenario, Dr Dawson said it could cause fatalities.
“If you are eating, for example, a curry and it was including bits of the animal stomach or the heart, then you would expect really high concentrations of cyanide … which could be fatal.”