In a powerful joint letter addressed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, more than 30 prominent stars from the realms of acting, fashion, and music have called for an immediate end to Indonesia’s dog and cat meat trades. The celebrities include Jeff Bridges, Billie Eilish, Charlize Theron, Clint Eastwood, Kim Basinger, Courteney Cox, Ricky Gervais, Andie McDowell, and Zooey Deschanel.

The plea comes in the wake of a successful rescue operation conducted by animal charities Humane Society International (HSI) and Animal Friends Manado Indonesia (AFMI) at Tomohon Extreme Market, one of the country’s most notorious markets.

This year, the Tomohon Extreme Market, located in the city of Tomohon in North Sulawesi province, was permanently shut down in July by Mayor Caroll Senduk, in collaboration with HSI and AFMI. 

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The market had been infamous for the slaughter and sale of over 130,000 dogs and countless cats annually. The charities rescued the remaining animals found alive at the market slaughterhouse.

Ending Indonesia’s dog meat trade

The joint letter commends the leaders across Indonesia who have taken steps to eradicate the dog and cat meat trades, acknowledging the 28 cities and regencies that have already passed directives and regulations prohibiting these trades. 

“We are writing to extend our congratulations to those leaders throughout Indonesia who have taken action to eradicate the dog and cat meat trades in their jurisdictions, saving tens of thousands of dogs and cats every month from the cruel and dangerous trades,” the letter says

The stars also highlight the groundbreaking action taken by the City of Tomohon. “There are now 28 cities and regencies that have passed Directives and regulations prohibiting the trades, as well as the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, and the groundbreaking and progressive action taken by the City of Tomohon in July ending the sale and slaughter of dogs and cats, and their meat, at the nation’s most infamous market—Tomohon Extreme Market.”

“We now urge the central government of Indonesia to ensure that all regulations and laws to end the cruel and dangerous dog and cat meat trades are fully enforced, and that a nationwide ban is introduced so that we can soon celebrate a truly dog and cat meat-free Indonesia,” the letter concludes with an urgent appeal to President Joko Widodo. 

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In addition to American stars, the letter was also endorsed by some of Indonesia’s most influential celebrities, including Bubah Alfian, Cinta Laura Kiehl, D.J. Bryant, Davina Veronica, Luna Maya, and Prilly Latuconsia. It underscores the fact that a significant majority of Indonesians and international visitors oppose the cruel and exploitative dog and cat meat trade.

Celebrities take action

Lola Webber, HSI’s director of campaigns to end the dog meat trade, expressed gratitude for the support of global and Indonesian stars, emphasizing the importance of their voices in advocating for the millions of animals subjected to horrific abuse.

“We are so grateful to these outspoken Indonesian and global stars who are using their voices to speak up for the millions of dogs and cats who endure the most horrific abuse for the meat trade,” Webber said in a statement. “We echo their praise for those Indonesian leaders working with us to end this cruelty and we join with them in urging President Widodo to introduce a nationwide ban.”

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The celebrities were inspired to pen the letter following the successful dog and cat meat trade ban at Tomohon Market achieved by HSI and AFMI. The historic agreement signed by six dog and cat traders associated with the market has disrupted the vast supply network of animal thieves and traffickers involved in their brutal transport.

Frank Delano from AFMI highlighted the public health risks posed by the cat and dog meat trades, particularly the spread of the deadly rabies virus. “The dog and cat meat trades are not only obscenely cruel, but they also jeopardize public health through the spread of the deadly rabies virus during dog slaughter, butchery, and consumption. So to see these celebrities stand with the majority of Indonesian citizens in calling for an end to this miserable trade is really encouraging.”

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