The director of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre has called on people to stop eating dog meat and for better protection of the animals under the law as his organisation moves forward with training to have them locate landmines.
CMAC director Heng Ratana said on Sunday during a meeting with the Animal Rescue Cambodia (ARC) that dogs deserve better protection due to their contribution to society.
“I think the protection of the dogs should be entrenched in the law because so far other countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are doing it,” he said.
“We should avoid eating dog meat not just because we should have sympathy toward the animal, but because eating dog meat might cause illnesses,” he added. “Health officials should be involved in stopping this practice to protect people’s health.”
“There are four problems linked to eating dog meat,” he continued. “First, we lose our good tradition and custom that are passed down to our children and grandchildren warning them not to eat dog meat because eating dog meat brings bad luck.”
“Second, it leads to theft and crimes in the society. Third, it can affect public health because of infectious diseases. And fourth, the lack of respect for their contribution to serving people, especially drug-sniffing dogs, security dogs, anti-terrorism dogs, and border security dogs.”
CMAC is currently training intelligent dogs, equipped with cameras and communication systems, to detect landmines and cluster munitions in demining operations.
Mr Ratana said that the organisation is cooperating with APOPO, a demining organisation that uses rats, to carry out the programme.
He noted that they are studying ways to train the dogs and equip them with cameras, sound systems and remote communication systems.
Mr Ratana said CMAC is training seven dogs and will soon take them for tests at a landmine field.
A spokesman for the Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society yesterday said that the organization supports Mr Ratana’s stance.
“PPAWS is totally against the dog meat trade,” the spokeswoman said. “Eating dog meat is not a Cambodian custom or a tradition and dog meat is not a part of Cambodia’s rich historical culinary heritage. Eating dog meat stems from the 70s and from a difficult social and economic period in the country’s history.”
“This trade should be stopped. It is unnecessarily cruel to dogs given the conditions they are held in and transported in and the way in which they are killed,” she added. “There definitely are health issues too for humans given the scale of rabies in dogs, which can lead to a terrible death for anyone consuming contaminated dog meat.”