Siem Reap province has become the first in Cambodia to ban the trade of dog meat over concerns regarding public health and its impact on the tourism sector.
According to the statement by Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Monday, the province is ordering all dog meat sellers in Siem Reap to cease business activities effective immediately.
The ministry said dogs should not be farmed or slaughtered for meat as they are treasured animals, which have a strong bond with humans and in consideration of their work for the military sector.
“Dog meat trade in Siem Reap province has increased to a concerning number and must be stopped,” the statement said.
“Siem Reap is a cultural hub and a famous tourism destination, which locals and international tourists visit and therefore the region must be protected.”
“Four Paws International and the World Organisation for Animal Health has said the rising slaughter of dogs in recent years has caused the spread of rabies and other diseases which impact public health. Also, the slaughter of dogs is inhumane,” it added.
According to a press release by Four Paws International yesterday, a nationwide investigation by the organisation found dog meat trade in Siem Reap province as prevalent.
“Siem Reap province is responsible for large-scale sourcing and trafficking of dogs and dog meat to restaurants, mostly in Phnom Penh,” it said.
“Based on our research, the trade has continued unabated despite consumption being controversial. We found that around 12 percent of Cambodians consume dog meat regularly, with over 7,000 dogs killed in slaughterhouses every month in Siem Reap alone,” it said.
“After approximately two years working closely with the Cambodian government, we laud the decision to implement this ban in the province,” it said.
“The historic decision 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,” said Katherine Polak, veterinarian and head of Four Paws Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia.
A letter by the Provincial Agriculture Department said any person violating the ban will be charged based on the Law on Animal Health and Production.
According to Articles 112, 113 and 115 of the law, those who violate the ban will be issued with fines of up to $3,750.
Cambodian Mine Action Centre director-general Heng Ratana lauded the decision, saying he has always expressed his support for ending dog meat trade in the Kingdom.
“I strongly hope the passing of this law sets an example and the ending of dog meat trade spreads across the Kingdom,” he said.
Tang Kimleng, a dog rescuer, also expressed his appreciation for the decision.
He said he has been buying dogs from sellers since 2018 and has been filming the videos of rescues to promote the humanitarian efforts on social media. Most recently, he rescued six dogs from a dog meat trader near Bakong Temple and his rescue video went viral.
“The decision to ban dog meat activities after the video went viral means the authorities have acted upon the communities’ concerns,” he said.
“I hope other provinces throughout the country will adopt the same measure as Siem Reap province,” he said adding that dog meat trade in Svay Rieng province is also high and potentially endangering the community.