Bali is a popular destination for Western and Australian tourists. Attracting both budget backpackers and luxury honeymooners, it’s the most developed Indonesian island.
But according to a new report, visitors to the island are being duped and unknowingly eating dog meat that they think is chicken.
Animal protection organisation Animals Australia recently conducted an investigation into the matter, entitled “Bali's hidden meat trade - and its disturbing connection to Australian tourism.”
WARNING: Graphic images and video below
They found that every day, dogs - including pets - are being taken off the streets of Bali and killed, often brutally, to be sold as meat to tourists.
“Dumped in bamboo crates or plastic rice sacks, terrified dogs await the nightly slaughter with legs tied and mouths taped shut,” Animals Australia say.
“They may languish like this for hours or days without food or water. One by one they will be brutally slaughtered in full view of their companions.
“And business is booming. Year on year, seven times more dogs are slaughtered in Bali than in China’s notorious Yulin Dog Eating Festival.”
The full findings will be broadcast on the ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday night.
It’s reportedly street food vendors who are most likely to be selling dog meat as chicken, but about 70 restaurants in Bali have been found to sell dog meat too.
Often it’s sold with the word “satay,” and the sellers allow tourists to presume it’s chicken.
“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,” Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White told the ABC.
“Poisoned meat is entering the food chain.
“The dog-meat trade breaches animal cruelty laws and food safety laws. That is a statement of fact,” she said.
Animals Australia used an undercover investigator to find out just how bad the dog trade in Bali was.
“I began the investigation by pinpointing and getting to know the key players in Bali's completely unregulated dog-meat industry,” the investigator said.
“Eventually, they invited me to join them as their gangs stole, hunted, poisoned and killed dogs.”
He spoke to a seller who admitted he was selling dog meat, but then proceeded to tell tourists it was chicken.
“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.
“I focussed on my camera work but it was gut-wrenching to hear these dogs... screaming and wailing in terror and sorrow.”
Not only are dogs being tortured for this trade, but those who eat the meat could also be at risk.
According to New South Wales Poisons Information Centre director Dr Andrew Dawson, the dog meat could be poisoned, which could lead to symptoms such as nausea, muscle aches, shortness of breath and may also cause organ and nerve damage.
“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,” Dr Dawson said.
Some people in Bali are fighting to end the trade though - the Balinese Animal Welfare Association, for example, works to protect the island’s dogs.
They’re currently looking after about 150 dogs, but it’s a long way off the estimated 70,000 that are slaughtered every year for the dog meat trade.