Pet owner seeks justice in nation’s first animal abuse case
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Christina Sasmita bought two St. Bernards from a kennel in Bandung, West Java, in 2008, because she wanted her children to have pets to play and learn with. Little did she know that those dogs, with her two other St. Bernards, could help improve the protection and promotion of animal rights in the country.
Christina’s dogs, three of which suffocated during a cramped 15-hour train journey last year, are at the heart of an unprecedented legal battle between the dog lover and the owner of the petshop she hired to transport the dogs.
The case started in February last year when Christina wanted her dogs, which used to live with her in Jakarta, to live in a cooler climate. So she decided to use the services of Johannes Indrajaya, the owner of Planet Petshop, to transport the dogs by train to Klaten, Central Java, where they were to be received by Christina’s friend. Much to her horror, three of her dogs were found dead on arrival after spending 15 hours inside cramped cages, which were only 72 centimeters tall and 66 centimeters wide, with no food or water. The dogs ranged in size from 72 to 83 centimeters tall.
Christina said that she specifically instructed Johannes to use four larger cages for each of the dogs so that her dogs might have room to move. “Instead, he stuffed two dogs into one smaller cage, where they could barely move,” she said on Saturday. “He even duct-taped the cages, reasoning that he wanted to prevent the dogs from escaping. But he sealed all sides of the cages, not only the front door.”
In such cramped spaces, with a lack of oxygen, three of her dogs died from suffocation. One was found in critical condition upon arrival and managed to survive after being rushed to a veterinarian.
Christina said she initially tried to resolve the situation with Johannes amicably. “However, he clearly showed no signs of remorse over the tragic deaths of my dogs. He always tried to blame the deaths [of my dogs] on other parties, such as the company he hired to transport them or even my housekeeper, whom I trusted to bring the dogs to him.”
Thus, she decided to file a lawsuit against him at the Central Jakarta District Court in October last year, seeking Rp 90 million (US$9,540) in compensation and Rp 1 billion in immaterial damages, all of which she plans to donate to animal rights organizations.
According to Christina’s lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, the court’s verdict would be a landmark decision because this was the first time an animal abuse case had been taken to court.
“This can be a wake-up call for society, showing them that it is wrong to treat animals cruelly,” he said.
Todung said the trial process would reach its final stages this week, and the court would announce its verdict next month. (han)