Daily Mail Online 02/24/2021
Sixty-one dogs have been saved from being turned into dog meat after they were found crammed into six tiny metal cages on their way to a Cambodian slaughterhouse.
The dogs, who were packed on top of each other, were being taken to be slaughtered in Kampong Cham, southeastern Cambodia on Sunday.
But the minivan transporting the dogs was intercepted leaving nearby Siem Reap by the Provincial Department of Agriculture in collaboration with local police, according to international animal welfare charity Four Paws.
It is the first government-led interception of canines in the country since the dog meat ban came into force in Siem Reap in July last year.
The lucky dogs, which were both strays and stolen pets, were taken from the crowded minivan and authorities arrested the driver.
The dogs, who were lying in precarious and uncomfortable positions in the minivan, were quickly removed from the overcrowded cages and released into a small holding area where they were free to roam.
Most of the pups were youngsters and many showed signs of severe heat exhaustion and dehydration. Charity workers believe they hadn't eaten for days.
They are now being taken care of by Four Paws charity workers and local charities Paw Patrol Cambodia and Animal Rescue Cambodia. Emergency feeding and medication will be provided for all of the 61 dogs.
A veterinary team is currently vaccinating and treating the dogs for the injuries they have sustained.
'It is unclear how long these dogs were in the van or at a holding area before being loaded onto the vehicle,' said Dr Katherine Polak, veterinarian and head of Four Paws Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia. '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 Polak added.
While Siem Reap, a major tourist location in Cambodia, banned the slaughter and trading of dogs for meat last year, it is still a 'key hot spot' in the country's dog meat trade, according to Four Paws.
Specialised minivans equipped with cages such as the one intercepted on Sunday are used to regularly transport an estimated 3,750 live dogs every month out of Siem Reap to slaughterhouses, according to an investigation by Four Paws.
The dog meat trade includes the large-scale sourcing and trafficking of dogs and supplied the Eastern part of Cambodia - including capital Phnom Penh.
Once they arrive at the slaughterhouse, dogs face their untimely deaths. They are drowned, stabbed or hanged and then stropped of their fur before being sold by wholesalers to the more than 100 dog meat restaurants in the capital.
A campaign has been launched by Four Paws to end the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia - and more than one million people have signed so far.
'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,' said Dr Karanvir Kukreja, veterinarian and Head of Companion Animal Public Campaigns Southeast Asia at Four Paws.