A little boy holding and a petting a dog in bali

A kinder world for dogs in Bali is here.

A monumental new law will finally end the dog meat trade and distribution in Bali. See what’s happened, and how this next chapter carries with it the power to create a kinder, brighter world for dogs and people everywhere.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated November 1, 2023

Bali’s Governor has signed a new order which makes the trading or distribution of dog meat in Bali illegal and a criminal offence

The major precedent comes six years after Animals Australia’s world-first investigation exposing the cruel dog meat trade in Bali – and how international tourism, especially from Australia, was fueling a major crisis for all animals killed for food on the island.

Since then, we’ve stayed on the ground, working closely with local people, academics, authorities and government to support a community-led mission to save Bali’s unique dogs from cruelty – and support a transition to kinder, more sustainable business practices.

This historic ruling makes Bali the first province in Indonesia to pass a law with criminal charges for anyone trading or distributing dog meat. But before the law, came a profound shift in thinking, and the rekindling of an age-old relationship between humans and animals.

A home-grown, local approach.

Through our global arm, Animals International, our goal was to support the efforts of local people in Bali working to address the root cause of animal suffering on the island – through education and reconnection. This led to the establishment of a truly Indonesian animal welfare organisation – Sintesia Animalia Indonesia.

Sintesia has worked to create social change through education that is locally relevant, values-aligned and culturally significant to Indonesia and its people.

Through education and removing barriers to kinder food and business choices, a shift in thinking was generated that led people to be the change first, and then the law followed.

By working closely with Bali traders over many years, we learned people would always choose something else to sell if they had access to it. Many have now changed and don’t want to harm or hurt dogs anymore – because they see them differently.
Dr Sasa Vernandes

From selling dog meat to selling vegetables.

For the Hindu majority of Bali, eating dog meat or participating in the trade is very much against Hindu Balinese beliefs. So, it was important to understand why these practices became prevalent on the island in the first place, the role tourism was playing, and most significantly, the desire within the local community to create change.

“Often we found through working with traders of dog meat in the different villages that they did not understand they were making dogs suffer or hurting them – because this was all they could do to make money. Most traders in the poorer areas are less educated and poor, and this limits their ability to create or choose kinder and safer alternatives. Local people often had no choice but to keep doing what their parents did to survive.” – Dr Sasa Vernandes, Sintesia.

Sintesia also educated local communities on the health risks and dangers of the dog meat trade, helping them understand that consuming and selling dog meat contributed to the transmission of diseases, including rabies – a deadly disease endemic in Bali.

“Now, dogs in Bali are seen as someone, not food – through education and reconnection, we have reawakened that relationship. Some are hard to change, and that’s why we need strong regulations. But most people who used to be dog meat traders have changed, they don’t want to harm them. One woman we worked with for years stopped selling dog meat – she now sells vegetables!”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Bali dogs are exceptionally unique - Kintamani pups are rarely found anywhere else in the world. Animals International and Sintesia has introduced a new Ambassador dogs program in Bali for people, and the community police (pictured), to learn even more about these beautiful animals, and to educate people about animal welfare and how to co-exist with these dogs in harmony.

A kinder future for all animals in Bali.

Our investigations in Bali again reinforced the risks faced by animals — be they dogs, pigs, chickens or cows – when they are seen as nothing more than a food source. All love life, all fear harm. All feel. So part of our ongoing work, led by Sintesia in Bali, has been educating children about animal welfare and sentience, and importantly, including farmed animals in that conversation too.

The journey to end the dog meat trade in Bali is about much more than the dogs themselves. It’s about understanding inherited systems of thinking; the transformative power of liberating ourselves from old beliefs and old ways of doing things; it’s about a belief in a new potential; and how by extending our circle of compassion to include everyone – humans and animals – we can create a kinder world for all.

If you’d like to explore our blueprint for a kinder, more compassionate world, order you free copy of our Join the Evolution magazine today.