Since 2018, Dr Polak has been leading FOUR PAWS companion animal programs in Southeast Asia, with a special focus on combating the cruel dog and cat meat trade. Through this work Dr Polak has ensured that as many animals as possible have access to the care and support they need. She says: “It doesn't matter where it is in the world, if it's Vietnam, Indonesia, Europe or North America, animals deserve the same love, shelter and care no matter where they are.”
It is this passion that has driven the award-winning vet forward since she qualified and has led her to focus on high-quality, high-volume spay neuter programs across Southeast Asia. This recent win is another bow in the vet’s already very decorated arrow, but she says “It is a huge accolade to have this recognition and I am allowing myself a moment to pause and celebrate, but the work never ends, because the animals need our help more than ever. Tomorrow I’ll be back at to ensure our work to provide animals with the support they so desperately need across Southeast Asia continues.”
As many in animal welfare around the world are all too aware, COVID-19 has put even more pressure on the often stretched resources. For Dr Polak, the work has intensified as many stray animals risked starving due to no scraps from visiting tourists, and local community members out of work. But despite travel restrictions restricting Polak to Thailand, her team spread through four countries, has continued to help as many animals as possible.
Likewise despite a global pandemic, the team were able to close another dog meat slaughterhouse recently, saving thousands of dogs from the cruel trade. A total of 15 dogs awaiting imminent slaughter were safely rescued and taken to FOUR PAWS’ local partner for medical care and rehabilitation. Some have already found new homes in Southeast Asia and further afield thanks to the work, again secured via Dr Polak, in Los Angeles. For those lucky dogs their lives could not look more different from just a few months ago, now they are loved companions not the next dish on a menu.
Polak says “The ability to transform a dog’s life and offer them a second chance at happiness is what drives me forward. But, I know there are thousands more dogs that haven’t been as lucky and until this trade is eradicated my work isn’t done.”
You can help Dr Polak and her team by signing and sharing the petition to end the dog and cat meat trade across Southeast Asia. Nearly a million people have so far.