Dog meat HORROR: Downton Abbey star films inside dog meat market – 'Utterly heartbreaking'

GRAPHIC WARNING: Downton Abbey star Peter Egan has filmed the most harrowing scenes of his distinguished career – witnessing the brutality of a dog and cat meat market.

The animal lover – who played Hugh "Shrimpie" MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire, on the ITV drama – appears traumatised as he uncovers the horrors of animals being bludgeoned, blowtorched and butchered. Cameras captured the star’s heartbreak as he walked around the notorious Indonesian markets to observe the harrowing scenes. Although the British actor and international campaigners managed to save four animals before they were slaughtered, the reality is that thousands of cats and dogs will die horrifically this year unless the authorities crackdown.

Video footage released by the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition shows Mr Egan on his recent trip to Tomohon’s “Extreme Market” and Langowan Market on the island of Sulawesi, with scenes that left a heavy burden on the well-known animal champion.

As the actor walks past market stalls stacked with rows of charred and butchered animals, he finds one dog cowering inside a covered cage. He tells the camera: “This is heartbreaking. This is devastating”

Scenes of blood and filth shock the actor’s senses. Market traders look on menacingly while he goes on to inspect stalls with recently butchered and blowtorched cats and dogs, his voice trembling with emotion.

Explaining scenes of a dog being chopped and cut apart, he says in angst tones: “You can see a dog that’s just been butchered. He’s obviously been blowtorched and is now being disembowelled. It’s really beyond belief. It’s horrific.”

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A shocked Peter Egan at dog meat market

Actor Peter Egan witnesses caged dogs at Indonesian meat market (Image: DMFI)

The most harrowing moments come when Mr Egan and the welfare campaigners manage to save four dogs in the knowledge that others will perish.

He laments: “People will say, ‘why not save them all?’ Sadly, we just can’t, we have to make a choice.”

The 72 year old London-based actor was accompanied by British filmmaker Andrew Telling and DMFI campaigners for his highly distressing visit to the blood-stained markets, but admits nothing had prepared him for the horrors he witnessed.

Speaking after the visit, he said: “I had been warned about the conditions for the animals at the markets in North Sulawesi, but nothing could have prepared me for the sickening horrors I witnessed.

Peter Egan looks away from bodies of two cats

A shocked Peter Egan looks away from the bodies of two slaughtered cats (Image: DMFI)

“This part of Indonesia is world-renowned for its breath-taking volcanic mountain landscape, stunning dive waters and beautiful beaches, but the ugly brutality of the dog and cat meat trades will haunt me for the rest of my life.

“The absolute indifference to animal suffering was so utterly shocking and heartbreaking."

He continued: “I saw countless dogs and cats waiting to be slaughtered, to lose their lives in the most brutal and cruel way. There was nothing I could do to take away their pain, but their pleading eyes and the stomach-churning smell of blood and burning dog hair, are scenes of hell that I shall never forget.

“I am committed to exposing these horrors and to working with the Indonesian and global community to fulfil our united goal of ending the abhorrent cruelty of the dog and cat meat trades.”

Peter Egan witnesses butchered meat on slabs

Peter Egan witnesses butchered meat on slabs (Image: DMFI)

Dog being blowtorched after slaughter

Dogs are blowtorched after slaughter to remove fur. Image taken in 2018. (Image: DMFI)

While more than one million dogs and cats are butchered in Indonesia’s 200 markets, mostly strays grabbed off the streets or stolen pets, as few as seven per cent of the country’s population eat their meat.

Officials have pledged to bring about an end to the trade, with its horrific impacts of tarnishing Indonesia’s image as a tourist haven as well as creating public health dangers from rabies. An estimated 620 people have been infected by the dreaded virus this year, with at least 12 dying.

Research has shown that up to 10 per cent of dogs sold for human consumption has been infected with rabies.

DMFI, a coalition of national and international animal protection organisations comprising of Change For Animals Foundation, Humane Society International, Animals Asia, FOUR PAWS, Animal Friends Jogja and Jakarta Animal Aid Network, has seen its campaigning receive global support, with stars such as Simon Cowell, Cameron Diaz and Pierce Brosnan giving their backing.

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Dogs await their fate at market

Dogs await their fate at meat market crammed inside cage. Image taken in 2018. (Image: DMFI)

More than a million people have also signed a petition calling on Indonesia to end the dog and cat meat trade.

Change For Animals Foundation co-founder and DMFI representative Lola Webber, who accompanied Mr Egan on the market visits, said: “Thousands of dogs and cats are killed at the markets in North Sulawesi each week, and it is estimated that 90 percent are stolen pets, owned or street dogs.

“Some 80 percent are imported from other provinces, which is illegal under the country’s anti-rabies law prohibiting the movement of dogs across provincial borders in rabies endemic areas.

“Having visited the dog and cat meat markets in North Sulawesi countless times, the horrors never cease to bring me to despair.

“Despite DMFI’s exposés of the cruelty, warnings of the dangers to public health and risk of rabies transmission, nationwide and global condemnation, and promises of action by local and central governments, business continues as usual.”