The dog meat business is growing
Luke has explored the dog meat trade in Bali for four months.
“While originally the eating of dog meat was limited to ethnic minorities, regrettably it is becoming popular amongst the Hindu population. It doesn’t help that it is cheap and the western impact in Bali has made locals think that eating meat equals status. And, of course, you market any product as growing men’s virility, no matter how groundless, and all of a sudden it becomes widespread.
“Aside from the brutality, the greatest shock was to discover that tourists are unsuspectingly eating dog meat and fueling the trade. The average tourist coming to Bali has no idea that ‘RW’ on the outside of popular street food stalls specifies dog meat.
Mobile dog meat vendors are hunting popular beaches in Bali selling satays from buckets, purposely not telling folks the origin of the meat and when asked, they lie.
“A group of Aussie tourists enjoyed the dog meat satays so much they went back for seconds. Yet had they known the origin of the meat they would have been disgusted.
‘I found myself apologizing for the brutality of my fellow man’
“I’d been spending time with a gang that was known for providing large numbers of dogs to many restaurants throughout Bali. They had a status for being tough and ‘efficient’. For quite some time, they wouldn’t let me watch them in action, nor would they debate their methods around me. But finally, as familiarity grew, they opened up.
“I remember they protested that, while they would typically use poisoned baits to collect large numbers of dogs, they’d recently fought to get access to the poison they needed. Finally, the day came when they asked me to join them on a collection. It was a reasonably confused operation and only a few gang members came along as most of them were unwilling to let me film them.
“I think they understood while the killing of dogs with poison was an effective way to hunt dogs and make money that the poison would then remain in the meat that was being consumed. This is why recording this was a critical part of our analysis. Even if the Bali Government didn’t care about the cruelty, surely they would care about poisoned meat entering the food chain.
What I saw that day will remain burned in my mind for years to come.
“Poisoned baits were laid on a dirt path amid the labyrinth of Denpasar’s back streets. Before long a lean and timid black dog appeared and consumed one. The bait acted to ‘stun’ the dog and a gang member quickly gripped him by the front leg while another leapt in to shove more poison down his throat. He began foaming at the mouth and buckled as he tried to escape.
“While the effects of the poison were rapid, the dog’s death was slow and it was clear he was wracked with pain. Finally, his laboured breathing stopped and he was dead. The gang quickly took to him with a blow torch to burn off his fur.
“Even as the dog’s legs were cut off his body, a gang member declared that another dog had taken a bait. As I relocated myself to capture this on film, I was gutted to see it was a small white puppy who was ingesting the poisoned treat. It took many excruciating 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 making an apology for the cruelty of my fellow man.