On Feb. 21, a minivan carrying 61 dogs stuffed into six small cages was intercepted on its way to a slaughterhouse in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. The vehicle was stopped leaving Siam Reap by the Provincial Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Provincial Commissioner of Police, according to a release from FOUR PAWS.
This stop is the first government-led interception of canines in Cambodia following Siem Reap’s dog meat ban, which the province passed in July 2020. Along with seizing the dogs, authorities also arrested the van’s driver.
After being pulled from the cramped van, the dogs were taken a holding area where they could stretch their paws. The canines are now under the care of FOUR PAWS, Paw Patrol Cambodia, and Animal Rescue Cambodia. The animal rescue groups are working together to provide medical care and food to all of the dogs. A veterinary team is also working with the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Agriculture to vaccinate all 61 canines. The group includes stray dogs and stolen pets.
“Most of them are young dogs and showed signs of severe heat exhaustion and dehydration. It is unclear how long these dogs were in the van or at a holding area before being loaded onto the vehicle. All were extremely hungry, most likely not having eaten in days. We are currently preparing off-site premises where the dogs will be safe and cared for until we have found new homes for them. This first-of-its-kind interception hopefully sends a loud and clear message to traffickers across Cambodia that future dog meat trading will no longer be tolerated,” Dr. Katherine Polak, a veterinarian and head of FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
While Siem Reap banned the sale and consumption of dog meat in 2020, FOUR PAWS, a global animal welfare organization still considers the province “a key hot spot in the country’s dog meat trade for the large-scale sourcing and trafficking of dogs to supply the Eastern part of the country, most notably Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh,” according the group’s release about the van rescue.
Sixty-one dogs are getting a second chance at life after they were saved from being slaughtered.
An investigation led by FOUR PAWS found that thousands of dogs are still being taken from Siem Reap to slaughterhouses in other Cambodian provinces each month. The organization is grateful to the authorities of Siem Reap for taking action against those trying to smuggle dogs out of the region for slaughter and hopes that this recent rescue is another step towards ending the dog meat trade in Cambodia for good.
FOUR PAWS is working to end the dog meat trade not just in Cambodia, but in the whole of Southeast Asia through rescue efforts, education, petitions, dog and cat population management programs and more.
“Through education and cooperation with the responsible authorities and tourism associations, the aim is to urge governments to introduce and enforce legislation banning the dog and cat meat trade to protect both animal and public health. Dr. Karanvir Kukreja, a veterinarian and the head of companion animal public campaigns for Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS, said in a statement.