Back in June, I traveled to Bali on behalf of Culture Trip to investigate the controversial dog meat trade that has been unfolding on the island. I had been to Bali before, but—like most travelers there—remained blissfully unaware of the many issues that plague “the island of the Gods,” distracted instead by my own solo travels and ‘Eat Pray Love’ adventure.
When I finally did learn about the dog meat trade in Bali, it was on my second trip to the island while on assignment. I decided to explore the dog meat trade for myself by meeting with the team at Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) who do everything they can to rescue Bali’s dogs.
The story I did for Culture Trip was one of the harder ones I’ve had to write. With tears streaming down my face, I spoke of the 70,000 dogs slaughtered each year in Bali for the dog meat trade, 100 percent of which are captured and killed in grotesque, inhumane ways.
When my story was published, to my joy it received hundreds of comments, likes and shares as well as thousands of page views. My words had sparked a debate and, more importantly, helped spread awareness.
Every once in a while, we are collectively reminded of the power of words and imagery to ignite serious change; and the international media and community coming together to fight for Bali’s dogs is a perfect example of that. Following an undercover investigation and intense media scrutiny from the international community, Balinese officials have decided to crack down on the island’s dog meat trade, once and for all.
“Balinese governor Pastika, issued a decree to ban the sale of dog meat in Bali, effective immediately, that pushes for education regarding the dog meat trade, marking a huge milestone in the fight to stop this barbaric industry,” reports One Green Planet. “Thanks to international pressure, a [dog meat] ban was imminent.”
While the decree is a positive move in the right direction, BAWA Founder, Janice Girardi, says the fight to save Bali’s dogs is far from over. “This is not actually a ban on dog meat. What is allowed and what is not allowed needs to be defined by Government with Parliamentary and/or or technical sectoral input,” explains Girardi. “This is the lowest level of Government instruction and frankly it can be ignored. We read it as more like recommendations to follow up with sectoral activities.”
While BAWA aims to use community outreach and educational programs to end the dog meat trade (just one of many animal cruelty acts unfolding on the island), an official ban on dog meat would be a huge win in a country where there are inadequate animal protection laws and no set laws against dog meat trading.
“Bali has an opportunity to take a real lead on this international issue that affects much of this region. Bali could set a great example to show [other countries] the way to stopping the dog meat trade. This is our hope,” says Girardi.“The Governor’s Circular Letter officially recognizes and recommends actions to deal with Bali’s dog meat trade. It is a great first step.”