Cambodian tourist province bans 'alarming' dog meat trade

Cambodian tourist province bans 'alarming' dog meat trade

Dogs are kept in a cage as a woman boils water at a slaughterhouse in Siem Reap province, on  Oct 25, 2019. (AFP file photo)
Dogs are kept in a cage as a woman boils water at a slaughterhouse in Siem Reap province, on Oct 25, 2019. (AFP file photo)

PHNOM PENH: A Cambodian province popular with tourists has banned the trade and slaughtering of dogs for meat, saying that canines are loyal and capable of protecting property and even serving in the military.

Siem Reap province, home to the ancient Angkor Wat ruins, is the first place to issue such a ban in Cambodia, where an estimated three million dogs a year are slaughtered for meat.

Siem Reap, visited by more than 2 million tourists annually, has been identified as a dog meat hotspot responsible for the large-scale sourcing and trafficking of Cambodian canines, according to animal welfare group FOUR PAWS.

Tea Kimsoth, director of the provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries department, said demand was driven by foreigners, especially South Koreans, who are among the most frequent visitors.

"Dog meat has been a lot more popular following the arrivals of foreigners, especially among the (South) Koreans," Tea Kimsoth told Reuters, describing the trade as "alarming".

"They like it, that's why it led to restaurants serving it, so now we ban it."

Anyone caught selling dog meat would be made to sign an agreement not to do it again, then fined for repeated offence.

The ban says dogs should not be slaughtered because they are loyal pets capable of protecting homes and farms and of assisting military. Despite numerous campaigns against it, the eating and trading of dog meat still takes place in some parts of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, even though canines are loved as family pets.

Among the biggest consumers of trafficked dogs is Vietnam, where some believe eating dog meat brings good fortune. Katherine Polak, head of FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia, called the ban historic and reflective of public sentiment.

"We hope that Siem Reap will serve as a model for the rest of the country," she said. 

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