Dozens of dogs are now safe after police raided an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse in Indonesia just moments before the slaughter began. Just as a truck loaded with 53 terrified dogs arrived at the slaughterhouse, in the early hours of November 24, the sting operation took place.

The dogs were discovered packed into the transport truck, each tied up to the neck in a sack, and many of them had their mouths bound shut. Humane Society International was on the ground to help save the dogs together with other members of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition that campaigns for a ban on the dog and cat meat trades. Rescuers soothed the whimpering dogs and provided them with veterinary care after their long and harrowing journey packed on a truck and their close brush with death.

Rescuers from Dog Meat Free Indonesia, a coalition of groups fighting to end the dog meat trade in the country, were on scene to help save the dogs.
Yoma Times Suryadi/AP Images for HSI

Some of the 53 dogs rescued were still wearing collars. We believe that this signals that they were stolen pets who were trucked far away from their families to be killed, which we know is a common occurrence in many parts of Indonesia that serve as “supply hotspots.”

As rescuers released the dogs from the sacks, some dogs even reached out to kiss and lick the rescuers’ hands.

In the days that have followed the raid, as they recover at Dog Meat Free Indonesia’s temporary shelter, it has been a special privilege to see footage and photos of the dogs as they start to recover. Many of the dogs are already wagging their tails and running over to get head scratches from their rescuers. Some are already playing with toys. Because most of the dogs are younger than a year old, we are hopeful that they will recover swiftly, making this trauma a distant memory.

Some dogs were still wearing collars, signaling that they could have been stolen pets.
Yoma Times Suryadi/AP Images for HSI

Some of the dogs needed IV fluids to help them to gain their strength; they were skeletal and dehydrated after their long journey on the truck. Others had wounds around their necks where snares had captured them or around their muzzles where their mouths had been bound shut. Rescuers are treating them for these wounds, while also trying to soothe their emotional wounds, too.

As the dogs continue to recover, our campaigners are issuing local appeals to see if any of these dogs can be reunited with their families, while also looking for families willing to adopt those who were strays or whose families may be too far away to locate.

Most people in Indonesia do not eat dogs; opinion polls show that only 4.5% of the population eats dog meat, while 93% of Indonesians are in support of a nationwide ban on dog meat. So, we hope to be able to find loving homes for as many of these dogs as we can within the country. Some dogs will also be flown to HSI’s shelter in Canada to find their forever families to be “ambassadogs” for our campaign to end this brutal trade.

Terrified and emaciated dogs were given veterinary care, food and water.
Yoma Times Suryadi/AP Images for HSI

This is the second major dog meat trade bust by the police in Indonesia, and we hope this marks a turning point in the fight against the brutal and dangerous dog meat trade. Authorities are also questioning a man suspected of coordinating shipments of hundreds of dogs to slaughter every month. This sends a strong signal to other dog meat traders that this trade will not be tolerated.

It is the beginning of a bright new future for these dogs, and we’re so happy to have been able to help them and continue to fight for a world where the dog meat trade no longer exists.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

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