Animal welfaregroups are calling for the government to ban the trade of dog meat throughout the country following the discovery of a dog slaughter house in Kampong Cham province, described as the worst they have seen in Southeast Asia.
Four Paws International together with Animal Rescue in Cambodia posted an open letter online in December last year calling for the government to put an end to dog meat trade for human consumption. They have gathered one million signatures worldwide since then.
The letter says: “The evidence we gathered documented the immense animal cruelty inherent in the trade, unsanitary slaughter methods and the serious risk the trade poses to public health, largely due to rabies. The publication of our findings has resulted in national and international calls for action to be taken to protect dogs as faithful companions and defenders of public health and national security, not food.”
In a video posted by Four Paws on their Facebook page, a caged dog is shown being delivered to a slaughter house in Skun town, Cheung Prey district wwand later on brought to a dark room. The camera was unable to capture what happened, but the dog’s whine suggests it was slaughtered.
The group said this slaughterhouse in Skun was by far the worst place their team has ever seen and estimated one million dogs have been killed since its opening in 1995, with 200 dogs being drowned daily.
Head of Four Paws Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia and veterinarian Katherine Polak said the dog and cat meat trade is not only immensely cruel but also poses a risk of new zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 and is linked to other public health threats such as rabies.
According to her, the one million signatures received worldwide from the campaign aiming to stop dog meat trading was overwhelming.
“We are proud to have reached such a first major milestone of public support from people all over the world who reject the dog and cat meat trade and the cruelty it stands for. We have seen favourable and crucial turning points this year. Cambodian tourist hotspot Siem Reap set an example when it banned dog meat, but there is still much work to be done,” she said.
In July 2020, dog meat sellers in Siem Reap province were ordered to cease business activities. The Provincial Agriculture Department indicated any person violating the ban will be charged based on the Law on Animal Health and Production in relation to Articles 112, 113 and 115 of the law and those who violate the ban will be issued with fines of up to $3,750.
Four Paws revealed that three million dogs are slaughtered in Cambodia each year, even though dog meat is not a cultural or historic practice in the country. The number of dog meat restaurants are increasing and there are at least 100 of them in the capital city of Phnom Penh.
“Together with one million supporters, we urge the governments to take responsibility and ban the dog and cat meat trade to protect humans and animals alike,” said Polak.
In 2018, Four Paws started the campaign “Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade” in Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Project manager of Four Paws Karanvir Kukreja said the group is aiming for the governments of Southeast Asia to introduce, strengthen and enforce animal protection laws which will bring an end to this brutal trade.
“This will not only protect animals, but also people, from public health risks. The recent COVID-19 pandemic brings into stark reality the dangers of the trade in live animals. The conditions seen in Wuhan at the live animal market in China, the likely origin of COVID-19, as well as other documented origins of recent pandemics – 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 leading to an ideal environment for the emergence of new viruses.