8th July 2020 – One of Southeast Asia’s most iconic tourist attractions is making major strides for the country’s millions of dogs. After global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS revealed the suffering of an estimated three million dogs slaughtered for meat in Cambodia each year, the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries published a letter on 6th July banning the slaughter and trading of dogs for meat in the province. 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. The recent developments are seen as a crucial turning point for animal welfare in the region.
During nationwide investigations, FOUR PAWS identified Siem Reap province as a key hot spot in the country’s dog meat trade, responsible for the large-scale sourcing and trafficking of dogs to supply the demand for dog meat in the Eastern part of the country, most notably Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The province’s dog meat trade is of considerable magnitude, involving upwards of 7,000 dogs per month, most of them ending up in slaughterhouses where they are drowned en masse. Until recently, the brutal trade has continued unabated despite consumption being a controversial practice, with less than 12% of Cambodians regularly consuming the meat, according to a FOUR PAWS market research.
“The historic decision by the Siem Reap government to ban the stealing, trading and killing of dogs is a huge milestone for animal welfare in Cambodia and is reflective of current sentiment among Khmer people. We hope that Siem Reap will serve as a model for the rest of the country to follow suit to protect the lives of millions of dogs.”
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
During FOUR PAWS’ investigations, a total of 21 restaurants serving an estimated 2,900 dogs per month were visited in the Siem Reap city area alone – several of them located close to the world-famous temple complex Angkor Wat. One dedicated dog slaughterhouse and five high-volume holding and trading areas were also located in the province, used to hold dogs prior to being transported for slaughter. Specialised minivans equipped with cages are used to regularly transport at least 3,750 live dogs per month out of Siem Reap to slaughterhouses in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Skun. Here 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.
The business with stolen dogs
According to FOUR PAWS research, the dog meat trade is a profit-driven industry in Cambodia, with a live dog fetching between $3 and $4.40 AU per kilo, while a kilo of raw meat is sold for up to $5.80. Individual dog meat dishes cost less than one $1.50. Men make up the majority of consumers who tend largely to eat the meat as a social bar snack, accompanied by alcohol. Women who eat dog meat tend to eat dog meat at home, and for purported medicinal reasons. Both pet and stray dogs are routinely victims the trade – many are snatched from pagodas and the streets, as well as stolen from their homes.
FOUR PAWS’ fight against the dog and cat meat trade
In Cambodia, FOUR PAWS partners with local charity Animal Rescue Cambodia to improve companion animal welfare, as well as with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre – a Cambodian government department – to end the dog meat trade. To put a sustainable end to the brutal dog meat trade in Southeast Asia, FOUR PAWS has launched a campaign on an international and national level in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
“Through educational work and cooperation with the responsible authorities, local communities and the tourism industry, FOUR PAWS’ goal is for Governments in Southeast Asia to introduce, strengthen and enforce animal protection laws, which will bring an end to the capture, slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats. This will not only protect animals – but people as well from public health risks,” says Dr Karanvir Kukreja, veterinarian and Project Manager for FOUR PAWS’ Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Campaign.
Furthermore, FOUR PAWS supports local animal welfare organisations and communities with humane and sustainable stray animal care 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 trade in Southeast Asia, as well as the Asia for Animals Coalition, which works to improve the welfare of animals across Asia.
The support for an end to this cruel trade has gained global traction with FOUR PAWS petition receiving over 800,000 signatures since it launched late last year:
Our report into the Dog and Cat Meat Trade, released in early 2020, can be found here in English
FOUR PAWS is an international animal protection organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need through work which is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise, as well as national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals who suffer under human influence: stray animals, animals used in fashion, companion animals, wild animals and farmed animals.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly.