A city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday banned the slaughter and sale of dogs and cats at what is known as an "extreme" animal market following years of campaigns by global activists and celebrities.
The ban was announced by Caroll Senduk, mayor of Tomohon in North Sulawesi Province, after sealing a deal with Humane Society International, an animal protection organization.
"Besides ending a show of cruelty before the public...this is an important step to encourage our community to consume more hygienic food sources and protect them from rabies and other zoonotic diseases," Senduk said in a statement.
Under the deal, 29 dogs and three cats found alive at the slaughterhouses supplying the city-run Beriman Market were rescued and taken to a nearby sanctuary for veterinary treatment and care until they are ready for adoption.
"North Sulawesi is an epicenter of Indonesia's cruel and dangerous dog and cat meat trade. The cruelty is obscene," said Lola Webber, the organization's director of campaigns to end the dog meat trade.
"It is a huge victory for animal welfare and public safety" that can ensure dogs and cats will no longer be bludgeoned and blowtorched at the Tomohon market, she said, adding that she hopes the deal "will set the standard for other markets and leaders to follow."
Investigations by her organization show that more than 130,000 dogs are slaughtered at Sulawesi's markets every year.
The Beriman Market, the biggest in North Sulawesi, where people from all over the province come to buy goods and food, has drawn the attention of some tourists as a gruesome must-see destination.