IN THE NEWS: On JUN 19, 2017
Australian tourists are unwittingly eating dog meat in Bali, according to evidence provided to the ABC's 7.30 program.
The animals are brutally caught and then butchered not far from the beaches visited by more than 1 million Australians every year.
Some of the animals are poisoned, posing a risk to human health, according to a leading toxicologist.
Whilst eating dog meat is not illegal in Bali, killing animals cruelly or eating meat contaminated with poison is against the law, Animals Australia's campaign director Lyn White said.
"The dog-meat trade breaches animal cruelty laws and food safety laws. That is a statement of fact," she said.
In an investigation led by Animals Australia (AA), 7.30 has obtained evidence that dogs are being bludgeoned, strangled or poisoned for human consumption.
"Dog meat is essentially filtering into the tourist food chain [in Bali]," Ms White said.
Behind 66 Beach in the tourist area of Seminyak, in southern Bali, a street vendor admits he's selling dog.
AA investigator: "What is that you're selling?"
Vendor: "Dog satay."
AA investigator: "This is why you have a picture of a dog here?"
Vendor: "Yeah, yeah."
But he tells tourists a different story.
A group of Australians asks the vendor if the satays are dog meat.
Vendor: "Satay just $1."
Australian: "Mystery bag, what is, chicken?"
Australian: "Satay chicken, not dog?"
Vendor: "No, not dog."
Australian: "I'm happy just as long as it's not dog."
Misled, they unknowingly eat the dog meat.
It's not just being sold on the beach — specialty restaurants sell dog meat as well.
"Tourists will walk down a street, they'll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realising is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served," Ms White said.
"They're just sitting down ordering satay having no idea that they're eating dog."
Warning: the rest of this story contains images and descriptions that some people may find distressing.
Terrified dogs caught, muzzled and put into bags
Over four months, an undercover investigator for Animals Australia infiltrated the dog trade in Bali. To protect his identity we have called him 'Luke'.
"I began the investigation by pinpointing and getting to know the key players in Bali's completely unregulated dog-meat industry," he said.
"Eventually, they invited me to join them as their gangs stole, hunted, poisoned and killed dogs."
Pretending to be a documentary maker interested in local cuisine, Luke was invited by a restaurant owner to witness his father, Pak Puris, catching dogs in Kintamani in Bali's north.
"The catching was fiercely aggressive. The dogs screamed and writhed as the noose strangled them. Some tried to bite through the ties to free themselves but with their muzzles lashed, their attempts were futile," Luke said.
"The villagers accepted 100,000Rp ($10) for the animals they caught. The terrified dogs were bagged and loaded onto the motorbike and the hunters headed off."
7.30 meets Luke in the tourist hotspot area of Seminyak. After seeing his vision, we ask: how do you cope filming such horror?
"As an animal cruelty investigator, I have trained myself to cope with cruelty, but nothing prepared me for the brutal catching of dogs in the village," he said.
"I focussed on my camera work but it was gut-wrenching to hear these dogs ... screaming and wailing in terror and sorrow."
During dinner, Luke gets a phone call. A contact tells him where captured dogs are being held for slaughter. We make plans to go there.
Bound dogs bludgeoned to death
We drive for four hours to Bali's north. It's near dusk when we stop and Luke leads us towards an outcrop of trees at the back of a rice paddy.
Behind the trees, a small tin-roofed hut shelters a tethered cow. Opposite is a bamboo cage holding seven dogs, muzzled and bound by the legs with vinyl tape.
It is dark inside. The dogs are lying in their own urine and faeces. They whimper and strain to breathe through the tape that binds their mouths shut.
A dog's leg dangles by a rope from the tin roof. The scene is confronting.
The catcher, Pak Puris, sits outside the cage.
Shortly, he will bludgeon them to death with a metal pole. It is not an exact science, and harrowing to watch.
We did not film it ourselves but saw Luke's vision, which he'd recorded on an earlier occasion.
We're told Pak Puris is 83. Through a translator, he tells us he doesn't eat dog, "it makes him want to vomit".
Over three decades, he's killed thousands of dogs. "Twelve a week," the translator said.
We ask him why he chose the dog trade.
"He can't get another job, he is too old," the translator said.
Dogs shot in the street, others poisoned
On another occasion, Luke follows a man named Gus who is riding a scooter through the back streets of Denpasar. He has a rifle slung over his shoulder.
"Soon a suitable dog caught his eye. A black dog was lying down on the doorstep of a shop," Luke told 7.30. "[He] killed the dog with a single shot."
Shooting is the most humane method of killing witnessed by Luke. During his investigation he documented dogs being beaten to death, hung from trees, and poisoned.
7.30 has seen the vision, which is too graphic to publish.
Luke has also filmed a puppy eating a fish head laced with poison.
He can be heard asking the dog killers:
Luke: "Tell me again what it is?"
Luke: "Oh, OK."
Shortly after eating the fish head, the puppy dies.
"It took many, agonizing minutes for the puppy to die, and for the first time in my career, I turned off the camera," Luke said.
"I sat stroking him as he died and found myself apologising for the cruelty of my fellow man."
Concerns about risks to human health
"Poisoned meat is entering the food chain," according to AA's Lyn White.
Doctor Andrew Dawson, who is the director of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre and head of toxicology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said there was a health risk.
"Because you are going to be exposed to a very toxic poison," Dr Dawson said.
"Firstly, cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog's body.
"The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat."
The clinical toxicologist said concentrations of cyanide in the flesh of the dog commonly used in a satay stick could result in minor symptoms such as "feeling nauseated, diarrhoea, aches in the muscles and shortness of breath".
However, if you were to eat the meat "again and again, that can actually give organ damage and damage to the nerves".
And, Dr Dawson said, the symptoms could be as severe as death.
"If you are eating, for example, a curry and it was including bits of the animal stomach or the heart, then you would expect really high concentrations of cyanide ... which could be fatal."
Dog curry is sold in dog meat restaurants in Bali. However, 7.30 did not verify what cuts of meat are used.
Dogs being caught in rabies red zones: AA
"A rabies red zone will mean there has been a recent case of rabies in dogs in that area," Ms White explained.
"Strictly, it's against the law to move dogs from a rabies red zone to other areas of Bali but that's what's happening because of the dog-meat trade."
Rabies can be spread to humans via a dog's saliva. Since 2015 there have been 20 known human deaths in Bali from rabies.
According to the World Health Organisation there are tens of thousands of rabies deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa.
Some locals think dog meat is good for their health
Five minutes from the spot where dogs were poisoned with cyanide, a dog satay BBQ draws a hungry crowd.
A 60-year-old man tells 7.30: "It is good for health especially during winter. It is good for breathing. It makes us strong."
But the practice of eating dog meat in Bali is not a long-held tradition, according to Ms White.
"It was actually a Christian ethnic minority that brought dog meat into Bali. It's fuelled by a minority that came to work, really in the hospitality industry, and unfortunately it has taken off," she said.
Some in Bali are fighting to end the industry
Influential Hindu spiritual leader Gusti Ngurah Harta has vowed to fight the dog trade.
"We were shocked when we heard that people here in Bali are eating dog meat. It means they forgot their elders' teaching," he said. "We are not allowed to eat dog meat in Bali. This is upsetting.
"In Hindu tradition in Bali, the dog is considered a holy animal. They are very patient and loyal to their owner. The Balinese love dogs because dog is their friend."
With connections to Balinese politicians, Mr Gusti has vowed to fight the trade.
"This is very sad for me to see those pictures. If it's happening in front of me, I would stop this cruelty to the dogs," he said.
The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) is working to protect the island's dogs.
"We rescue them from the [dog] trader," said Bagus Ndurah, a volunteer with BAWA.
He said his organisation was currently looking after about 150 dogs.
It's a drop in the ocean relative to the 70,000 dogs BAWA estimates are slaughtered in Bali every year to supply a growing appetite for dog meat.
BAWA has documented 70 restaurants serving dog in Bali.
AA is calling on Australians to demand an end to the trade
"Bali is Australia's playground, over a million Australians go to Bali every year," Ms White said.
"We have a unique friendship with the Balinese. We have a unique love of dogs.
"I think we are in a position where we can potentially turn this ... shocking story of cruelty into a good outcome and bring an end to the dog-meat trade."
But she said she was aware of the effect Animals Australia's campaign may have on the livelihoods of Balinese employed in the dog trade.
"We've given thought to that. I've even spoken to our management about possibility of compensation," she said.
"This is not about laying blame. This is about unnecessary cruelty that puts the human health population at risk and is causing shocking animal cruelty, it also is breaching Bali laws.
"We are certainly also willing to partner with the Bali government to bring about positive solution here."