Bali dogs hanged, poisoned with cyanide, fed to tourists

Tourists in Bali are being unknowingly sold the meat of cruelly-killed dogs.

Stray dogs are being caught and bludgeoned, hanged or poisoned to death. The lucky ones are shot dead in the street, according to a new report from ABC News. Their meat is sold in restaurants or by vendors who approach lounging tourists.

A vendor sells dog meat to a tourist.
A vendor sells dog meat to a tourist. Photo credit: Animals Australia/Supplied

Animal protection organisation Animals Australia documented a street vendor picking up satay meat from a person on a motorcycle. When asked what he's selling, the vendor openly tells investigators the meat is dog. But when the vendor approaches tourists on the beach, he tells them it's not dog.

The Australian tourists then buy and eat the satay, completely oblivious to the fact that they are eating dog meat.

The Bali Animal Welfare Association told The ABC 70,000 dogs are killed for their meat every year in Bali. They say at least 70 restaurants sell the meat. The report does not detail what fraction is consumed by locals.

Street dogs caught, bound, kept in horrific conditions 

An investigator from Animals Australia spent four month filming the dog trade in Bali, posing as a documentary maker interested in the local cuisine. What he saw was "gut-wrenching."

"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," he said. 

"It was gut-wrenching to hear these dogs ... screaming and wailing in terror and sorrow."

Puppies are bundled into a sack.
Puppies are bundled into a sack. Photo credit: Animals Australia/Supplied
A bound dog in Bali.
A bound dog in Bali. Photo credit: Animals Australia/Supplied

The investigator, named 'Luke' in the ABC report, took reporters to a site in Bali's north.

There, seven caged dogs were tightly bound and muzzled with vinyl tape. The tape was so tight around their muzzles the dogs must have struggled to breathe. Nearby, a butchered dog's leg hung from a blue rope, the shin bone exposed.

'Luke' witnessed a puppy poisoned with cyanide-laced fish, tightly bound dogs bludgeoned to death with poles, and others hanged from trees. 

But it was the poisoned puppy that stopped Luke in his tracks.

"It took many, agonizing minutes for the puppy to die, and for the first time in my career, I turned off the camera.

"I sat stroking him as he died and found myself apologising for the cruelty of my fellow man."

The most humane way he saw them killed, he said, was shot in the street. A video taken by Luke shows a man approach a black dog lying in the sun outside a shop. He carefully lines up a shot and kills it with a single bullet. 

A man shoots a dog in the street in Denpasar.
A man shoots a dog in the street in Denpasar. Photo credit: ABC/Screenshot

Is condemnation hypocritical?

Discussions of the killing and eating of dog meat can quickly descend into racism online. 

Yet animal activists frequently expose cruel practices on New Zealand farms and abattoirs. Over centuries, humans have formed unique relationships with cows, chickens and pigs. We don't bring them into our homes in the same way as dogs, but we have bred them to be docile and to contribute to our welfare by providing food.

So why do Westerners get so het up over dogs? 

Animals Australia says, "before condemning those who kill and eat dogs, it is important to realise that we too have been raised into a society that has normalised the slaughter of highly intelligent animals - often in horrific ways." 

Writing about the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin for CNN, Julian Baggini says Westerners "need to check that their objections are based on robust values and not just a sentimental preference for cute, friendly animals."

Health concerns

The dog meat trade raised health concerns for humans, argues Animals Australia.

The group say dogs are being moved out of rabies 'red zones' as part of the dog-meat trade, potentially spreading the deadly virus.

But consumption of the meat could cause problems in itself. 

When dogs are poisoned to death with cyanide, the poison is not destroyed through cooking, Doctor Andrew Dawson, of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre told ABC.

"Firstly, cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog's body.

"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."