23rd February 2021– Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has supported the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture with the first ever interception of dogs being taken to be slaughtered for the dog meat trade. On Sunday 21st February, 61 dogs were confiscated from a minivan and the driver was immediately arrested on the scene. The dogs, crammed tightly into six metal cages, were on their way to be slaughtered in Kampong Cham for their meat, when the vehicle was intercepted leaving Siem Reap town by the Provincial Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Provincial Commissioner of Police. The first government-led interception in Cambodia follows the recent dog meat ban in Siem Reap passed in July 2020.
Following the interception, all dogs were immediately removed from the overcrowded cages and released into a small holding area. FOUR PAWS teamed up with local organisations ‘Paw Patrol Cambodia’ and ‘Animal Rescue Cambodia’ to provide emergency feeding and medication for the 61 rescued dogs. A veterinary team is currently on-site along with the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture to vaccinate and treat all dogs for their injuries. The confiscated dogs include both stray animals and stolen pets.
“Most of them are young dogs and showed signs of severe heat exhaustion and dehydration. It is unclear how long these dogs were in the van or at a holding area before being loaded onto the vehicle. All were extremely hungry, most likely not having eaten in days. We are currently preparing off-site premises where the dogs will be safe and cared for until we have found new homes for them. This first of its kind interception hopefully sends a loud and clear message to traffickers across Cambodia that future dog meat trading will no longer be tolerated,”
explains Dr Katherine Polak, veterinarian and head of FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia.
Tourist attraction Siem Reap as lynchpin for Cambodian dog meat trade
Although Siem Reap has banned the slaughter and trading of dogs for meat as the first province in Cambodia in July 2020, FOUR PAWS still considers it a key hot spot in the country’s dog meat trade for the large-scale sourcing and trafficking of dogs to supply the Eastern part of the country, most notably Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. According to FOUR PAWS nationwide investigation in Cambodia, specialised minivans equipped with cages are used to regularly transport an estimated 3,750 live dogs per month out of Siem Reap to slaughterhouses in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Skun, where the dogs are drowned, stabbed, or hanged, stripped of their fur, and sold by wholesalers to the more than 100 dog meat restaurants in Phnom Penh. FOUR PAWS congratulates the Siem Reap authorities on their actions to save the dogs and stop the trade and looks forward to more definitive action being taken by the Cambodian government on a countrywide basis. FOUR PAWS has been working closely with the Cambodian government since 2018, advocating for a ban on dog meat due to the extreme animal cruelty involved and public health risk, largely due to rabies and the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Over one million people internationally make a stand against the dog and cat meat trade
To put a sustainable end to the cruel dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, FOUR PAWS has launched a campaign on an international and national level in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. More than one million people worldwide have already signed the petition to end the dog and cat meat trade. “Through education and cooperation with the responsible authorities and tourism associations, the aim is to urge governments to introduce and enforce legislation banning the dog and cat meat trade to protect both animal and public health. The recent COVID-19 pandemic brings into stark reality the dangers of the trade in live animals. The conditions seen in live animal markets – the likely origin of COVID-19 – unsanitary practices, brutal treatment, and cramped confinement leading to the mixing of sick animals, are also seen in the dog and cat meat trade. All of which leads to an ideal environment for the emergence of new pathogens including zoonotic diseases – it’s important that governments act against this before it’s too late”, explains Dr Karanvir Kukreja, veterinarian and Head of Companion Animal Public Campaigns Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS.
In addition to campaigning against the dog meat trade, FOUR PAWS supports local communities with humane and sustainable dog and cat population management programmes. FOUR PAWS is also part of the animal welfare coalitions DMFI (Dog Meat Free Indonesia) and ACPA (Asia Canine Protection Alliance), which lobby against the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia.