20240107 semarang
Activists from Animals Hope Shelter Indonesia checking a truck containing hundreds of dogs intended for consumption after it was seized by police in Semarang. Image Credit: AFP

Semarang, Indonesia: Indonesian police have intercepted a truck carrying more than 200 dogs shackled and bound for the slaughterhouse, authorities said, in the latest victory for activists who oppose eating dog meat.

The vehicle was detained late Saturday night in Semarang city on the island of Java, where the imperilled pooches were discovered in the bed of the truck with their legs and mouths bound.

The authorities arrested five truck crew members, who will be charged under an animal welfare regulation and could face up to five years in prison.

"We have had information about this for the past month, but only tonight were we able to thwart the transport of 226 dogs," local police chief Irwan Anwar told reporters Saturday night.

Indonesia is one of a handful of countries that still permit the sale of dog and cat meat, but a campaign against the practice has been gaining ground, with some cities including Semarang imposing local bans on the trade in recent years.

The police chief added that according to his department's preliminary investigation, the dogs were on their way to the neighbouring city of Surakarta, where they would have been slaughtered and their meat sold for consumption in western Java.

Animal welfare activists said they had reported the trade in dog meat to the police in December, but had since lost track of the operation.

"I received information for the first time on December 23 from one of my social media followers. Two weeks ago, they managed to escape my surveillance," said Christian Yosua Pale of Animals Hope Shelter Indonesia, who has pushed for a nationwide ban on dog and cat meat.

"Dogs, along with cats, are not livestock so they must not be made for human consumption."

Last year, a notorious Indonesian animal market in the island of Sulawesi ended the sale of dog and cat meat after years of activist pressure to halt the trade and its brutal methods of slaughter.