INDONESIA – In a shocking and heartbreaking incident, hundreds of dogs were rescued at the Kalikangkung Toll Gate in Semarang City on Saturday (6 Jan).
The dogs, intended for consumption, were found in deplorable conditions, with some succumbing to oxygen deprivation.
As of Monday (15 Jan), the death toll has risen to 19, according to Hernowo Budi Luhur, the Head of the Department of Agriculture (Dispertan) in Semarang City, Central Java. The distressing situation prompted investigations into the cause of death and the health conditions of the animals.
The Agriculture Department in Semarang initiated an examination of the deceased dogs, testing for various diseases. The laboratory results revealed that one of the dogs had tested positive for rabies, while others suffered from parasitic infestations and canine distemper.
Responding to the crisis, the Provincial Government of Central Java, through the Department of Livestock and Animal Health (Disnakkeaswan) Central Java, is advocating for the proper care of the rescued dogs in their original region, Bogor, West Java.
Agus Wariyanto, Head of Disnakkeswan Central Java, stated, “Sick and weakened dogs will be sent to Bogor because there is a representative shelter there. It is a matter of evidence, as the evidence is alive; they need to be fed and cared for. Meanwhile, 19 dogs have already died.”
This step is considered crucial to prevent the risk of rabies spreading in Central Java, which has historically been a rabies-free province. The transfer is scheduled to occur after approximately 200 abused dogs undergo a two-week quarantine in a shelter in Semarang City.
A joint effort involving the Department of Health of Central Java, Semarang City, and the Central Java and Semarang City Police is underway to address the rabies outbreak. Coordination is being established to evacuate the dogs from Central Java, especially those testing positive for parasites and canine distemper.
Andhika Dharma Sena, Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit of Semarang City Police, emphasized the need for careful planning, stating, “We will check the permits for the animal shelter in Bogor, which will be the place for the abused dogs. We have identified several locations outside Central Java, in Bogor, West Java. The atmosphere there is cool, unlike the hot weather here, which would facilitate the rapid spread of the canine distemper virus.”
The police have already identified five suspects in the abuse of the 226 dogs. The main suspect, identified as DH (43) from Gemolong, Sragen, Central Java, admitted to running an illegal dog-selling business for the past decade. He claimed to sell up to 400 dogs per month, with a net profit of around IDR 25,000 (approximately SGD 21.4) per dog.
Wiwit Ari Wibowo, Deputy Chief of Semarang City Police, revealed that DH sourced dogs for trading from various locations in West Java, primarily in Subang. Some of these dogs were allegedly stolen, evidenced by marks of restraint on their necks.
In addition to DH, three accomplices (A, W, S, E) were involved in the operation, serving as drivers and overseeing the transportation of the dogs in trucks to ensure smooth journeys.
All suspects are now facing charges under the Livestock and Animal Health Act (Law No. 18 of 2009 Article 89 Paragraph 2), which includes provisions related to the transfer of animals suspected of carrying diseases.
The penalty for such offences is a maximum of nine years in prison, in addition to charges related to animal cruelty under Article 302 of the Criminal Code.
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