Ten dogs were saved from imminent and horrific deaths in Cambodia, as FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization, closed a dog slaughterhouse in the Takeo Province on October 27 and took all animals into its care. The slaughterhouse owner, desperately wanting to get out of the dog meat trade, was aided in his business transition to growing rice.
With more than 2,000 dogs killed per year, this slaughterhouse was the largest supplier of dog meat in the province. The owner kept the dogs in a small and rusty iron cage until he slaughtered them by cutting their throats. After closing the slaughterhouse, FOUR PAWS took the ten rescued dogs to a local shelter partner, Animal Rescue Cambodia, where they received immediate medical treatment.
An estimated three million dogs, including stolen pets, are slaughtered for their meat every year in Cambodia. FOUR PAWS is calling for an outright ban of the cruel dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia. The dog meat trade in Cambodia has received little attention in recent years as compared with China’s Yulin festival and Korea’s dog meat farms.
The trade is not only inherently cruel to animals but also poses significant risk to human health. Rabies is endemic in the country, killing over 800 people every year. The occurrence of rabies in humans in Cambodia is one of the highest in the world, due to the lack of dog vaccination programs and high number of dog bites. The dog meat trade exacerbates the human health risk by removing vaccinated dogs from communities and transporting rabies-infected dogs across the country and into cities, putting consumers, tourists, traders, and butchers at risk of infection.
In the coming months, FOUR PAWS plans further investigations, rescue missions and negotiations with the responsible government agencies. Earlier in October, FOUR PAWS managed to provide six lucky dogs with a dramatically different future. The dogs were saved, quite literally, just moments before being brutally killed. The opportunity then arose for these dogs to accompany a staff member back to the United States. They took off from Siem Reap, Cambodia on Monday, October 14 and landed in Boston Logan International Airport the next day. The FOUR PAWS Boston team warmly greeted these dogs and drove them to a local shelter partner in New Hampshire, Connect A Pet New England, where the dogs were quarantined before entering foster homes and now await adoption.
FOUR PAWS’ approach in fighting the dog and cat meat trade is diverse and multifaceted with these rescues being just one tactic. The real strength of the effort comes from a large partnership network created across Southeast Asia. In Cambodia specifically, FOUR PAWS operates a partnership with Animal Rescue Cambodia in the capital city of Phnom Penh, which focuses on community engagement, rescue, veterinary training, and spay and neuter, with a special focus on Buddhist pagodas (a common dumping ground for unwanted animals). From these efforts, FOUR PAWS has witnessed in Cambodia a growing, local movement away from dog meat accompanied by an increasing population of loving dog-owners.
Featured image: a dog looks out from a cage. This image is not from the Cambodian dog slaughterhouse in this article. Image credit Dineshraj Goomany, CC BY-SA 2.0.