Indonesia ‘dog doctor’ rescues canines from pandemic peril | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:32 AM, July 12, 2020

Indonesia ‘dog doctor’ rescues canines from pandemic peril

Indonesian doctor Susana Somali and her staff cut tightly-bound plastic ropes off dozens of whimpering dogs rescued from the butcher's block after being sold or abandoned during the coronavirus pandemic.

Somali's sprawling Jakarta complex, home to about 1,400 canines, has become a refuge for at-risk animals as cash-strapped owners sell them into the Southeast Asian nation's controversial dog meat trade.

Mostly acting on tip-offs, Somali and her team hit the streets looking for stray dogs and butcher shops where more and more doomed animals are spending their last days howling in cramped cages.

Somali -- who juggles a day job testing COVID-19 samples at a local hospital -- started the shelter in an upscale Jakarta neighbourhood more than a decade ago.

Back then, she rescued one or two dogs from a butcher each week. But that number has soared to as many as 20 in recent months as strays are snatched off the streets for their meat.

The 55-year-old mother of two negotiates with often unfriendly butchers, sometimes paying them cash or supplying other meat to secure the animals' release.

"The real battle isn't rescuing them from butchers, although that is always scary. The challenge is taking care of these dogs during the pandemic," Somali said.

Somali and about 30 staff at Pejaten Animal Shelter are struggling to care for a huge number of animals as donations plunge in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Myriad breeds, including huskies, pit bulls, and German shepherds, roam the 5,000 square metre shelter, which Somali started in 2009.

Somali and her team rescued dozens of puppies bound for a local Korean eatery this month, but they don't always make it in time.

Animal welfare groups estimate as many as one million dogs are killed annually across Indonesia, with more than 100 restaurants in Jakarta alone serving their meat, according to government figures.

Dog is often a culinary speciality among Indonesia's non-Muslim minority groups. The animals are considered unclean in Islam and rarely kept as pets in Muslim-majority countries.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222


Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top