Set to die, the dogs were found severely exhausted and dehydrated after the minivan carrying them was intercepted.
About five dozen dogs crammed into six small cages were on their way to being slaughtered when they were saved just in time and given another shot at a happier future.
The 61 dogs, most likely starved for days, were tightly stuffed together in metal cages and were being transported to a slaughterhouse in Kampong Cham, Cambodia on February 21. Nearly becoming victims of the country's meat trade, the dogs were saved after a government-led interception took place and stopped the minivan as it was leaving the town of Siam Reap, according to People.
Right at the scene, the driver of the minivan was arrested and the dogs were given the medical attention they needed.
"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," said Dr. Katherine Polak from FOUR PAWS, which was the animal welfare organization that was part of the interception. With help from 'Paw Patrol Cambodia' and 'Animal Rescue Cambodia,' FOUR PAWS was able to feed the animals before giving them vaccinations and treatment for their injuries.
"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," said Dr. Polak, who works as the veterinarian and leads the FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia.
Being the first interception led by the government to save canines in Cambodia, the rescue was made possible by the efforts of the Provincial Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Provincial Commissioner of Police. "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," added Dr. Polak.
In July, 2020, a ban was enforced on the sale and consumption of dog meat in the province of Siem Reap, however, FOUR PAWS still believes the town is a notorious hot spot for dog meat trade. Although the ban was enforced, FOUR PAWS investigated and found that every month, about a thousand dogs are still being smuggled from Siem Reap to slaughterhouses.
It is a tough fight against a culture that sees nothing wrong with it, but the animal welfare organization is still hoping and working towards the end of the dog meat trade in the country as well as the rest of Southeast Asia.
Dr. Karanvir Kukreja, veterinarian and Head of Companion Animal Public Campaigns Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS, said, "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."
Noting how the unsanitary and run-down conditions in which animals are kept can be a breeding ground for infectious diseases, Dr. Karanvir added, "The recent COVID-19 pandemic brings into stark reality the dangers of the trade in live animals. The conditions seen in live animal markets – the likely origin of COVID-19 – unsanitary practices, brutal treatment, and cramped confinement leading to the mixing of sick animals, are also seen in the dog and cat meat trade. All of which leads to an ideal environment for the emergence of new pathogens including zoonotic diseases – it’s important that governments act against this before it’s too late."
Cover image source: FOUR PAWS International/Facebook