The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping this Indonesian doctor from rescuing dozens of dogs from being butchers after being abandoned or sold.

Susana Somali has opened her Jakarta complex to about 1,400 canines, who were rescued from people bound to butcher them due to the nation’s controversial dog meat trade.

Even before the pandemic hit, Somali started her shelter in a Jakarta neighborhood more than ten years ago. She and her team would often hit the streets looking for stray dogs. Now, the number of animals sold to butcher shops increased as people are looking for ways to get some income.

After testing COVID-19 samples at a local hospital in her day job, Somali then negotiates with often unfriendly butchers. She would try to pay them cash or trade other type of meat to secure the animals’ release.

“The real battle isn’t rescuing them from butchers, although that is always scary. The challenge is taking care of these dogs during the pandemic,” Somali told AFP.

Now, Somali and about 30 staff from the Pejaten Animal Shelter are struggling to take care of a huge number of animals as donations plunge due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to animal welfare groups, an estimate of one million dogs are killed every year across Indonesia, with more than 100 restaurants in Jakarta alone serving their meat.

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