Dogs being eaten drives mum to tears as she joins ‘devastating’ rescue…
British animal cruelty campaigner Lola Webber rescues stolen animals in Asia to stop them being slaughtered for food but thousands of dogs are dying every month
Lola Webber with a rescued puppy in South Korea (
Image: Lola Webber/Humeane Society International)
A British mum who is devoting her life to ending Asia’s cruel dog meat trade has helped to rescue 53 pups set for slaughter in Indonesia.
In nearly 15 years of campaigning, Lola Webber has become used to her encounters with horrific meat markets and dog farms. in addition she says already she was shocked by the emaciated state of the animals her team saved last week.
They moved in after campaigners uncovered an operation to traffic street pups and stolen pets 300 miles from western Java to Surakarta – where 13,700 dogs are killed every month for their meat to be used in satays or stews.
Police intercepted a truck at an illegal slaughterhouse in the city at night – and Lola was part of a team of vets and handlers waiting to take in the animals.
The 38-year-old Londoner wept as she told the Sunday People : “It was horrendous. I’ve been to markets, dog meat farms and I’ve met a lot of mistreated animals – but these were truly bags of bones.
Londoner Lola with dogs saved from slaughter (
Lola Webber/Humeane Society International)
“One, sadly, had not survived the journey. They’d been travelling for 10 hours and it was so hot the dogs could barely breathe. They were bound in hessian sacks, soaking in their own mess, and hung in pairs over bamboo poles.
“Many had wounds from where their mouths had been wired shut. I’d say 95% were under a year old.”
Police arrested a man suspected of coordinating the shipment of hundreds of dogs every month – killing on average 30 dogs every day. But it was only the country’s second large-extent raid of its kind.
Police in Indonesia with an animal seized during raids on dog meat traders (
Lola – who lives in Bali with husband Derek, 39, daughter Leila, 14, two-year-old twins Mia and Eloise, and four rescue dogs – says the case has only strengthened her resolve.
She works for the charity Humane Society International, heading up its End Dog Meat campaign. HSI estimates that 30 million dogs are killed for meat across Asia every year.
Lola said: “It can be sad and harrowing. Whenever we go away on rescue missions it’s important to come back and hug my dogs very tight.”
She has faced “intimidating and sometimes scary moments” in her work across Thailand, Indonesia and Korea. But she said: “People in markets are wielding the equipment they use to slaughter animals – if I feel scared, then I think about how the dogs must feel.”
These terrified pups were destined to be killed and eaten when Indonesia (
Lola became a vegetarian at seven after seeing a photo of caged chickens and had a makeshift “campaigns office” in her bedroom as a child.
She said: “I started writing to companies that tested products on animals. I wrote to restaurants that sold veal, airlines that flew cats to laboratories – anything I could think of.”
At 17, Lola volunteered at a chimp rehabilitation centre in west Africa. She studied zoology at university, then did a master’s in wild animal biology.
Landing a job at the World Society for the Protection of Animals at 25, she encountered the horrific reality of a dog meat market in South Korea.
Lola with rescued dog that has been nurtured back to health at a shelter in Jakarta
She said: “Once you’ve seen it, you can never unsee it. This nureongi – a Korean yellow dog – was in a cage with six others and we made eye contact.
“I stroked her fur and she licked my hands. It was a devastating moment, there was nothing I could do for her. I made a potential to dedicate my life to ending the dog meat trade.”
Just months later, Lola left London to work on the ground in Asia.
She moved to Indonesia in 2013 after three years in Singapore. She established the Change for Animals Foundation, her dedication winning her a prize at the Daily Mirror’s Animal idols Awards in 2017.
A Dog Meat Free Indonesia rescuer with animals saved in a police raid (
Lola revealed: “That market in South Korea where I saw the nureongi doesn’t exist any more. It’s been shut down, which is incredible. The sad parts are worth it for the fleeting moments of victory – like saving 53 dogs. In those moments, we’re winning.”
Last week’s rescue was coordinated by Lola, for HSI, four other charities that make up the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition and Sukoharjo police.
If convicted, the speculate faces up to five years in jail and a fine of around £8,000.
Tarjono Sapto Nugroho, head of investigation for Sukoharjo Police, said the force receives “many complaints” about illegal dog meat traders. He said: “Dog meat consumption is considered culture by some, but cultures evolve and so must we.”
A horribly mistreated dog with carers from the DMFI animal care group (
Despite a national government potential to crack down on the trade, only secluded regional governments there have so far taken the initiative.
But DMFI hopes two recent police stings mark a turning point in the campaign for a nationwide ban.
Last month a dog trader caught in Kulon Progo district was jailed for 10 months and fined around £7,500 after being intercepted transporting 78 dogs.
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Karin Franken, of Jakarta Animal Aid Network – part of DMFI – warned there is also a public health danger.
She said: “Rabies is a grave concern in Indonesia. Where dogs are slaughtered and sold in restaurants, it jeopardises the health of the community.”
The rescued pups, currently being nursed back to health at a shelter in Jakarta, will be transported to one of HSI’s rescue centres in Canada.
Lola said: “A lot are nevertheless traumatised but some are already up and playing with toys and being dogs again.
“The lows are low. But the highs like that make the fight all worth it.”
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