The Siem Reap provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has warned it will take legal action against vendors that continue to trade, buy, sell and slaughter dogs.

According to the department’s announcement on Monday, these acts have been banned.

Department director Tea Kimsoth said that since ancient times, dogs have been regarded by many as the most loyal and valuable pet to humans because they protect homes, farms and other animals. Kimsoth noted that they are also used by the military.

“[But] over the last few years, the increase in the buying, selling and slaughtering of dogs for food has been alarming. This is a sign that there has been a decline in humanitarian values. The spread of rabies and other diseases from region to region also affects public health,” he said.

Kimsoth confirmed that legal action will be taken against offenders.

“The unlawful hunt, purchase and slaughter of animals will be seriously punished by the provisions of Articles 112, 113 and 115 of the Law on Animal Health and Production [LAHP],” he said.

Under Article 112, anyone caught buying, selling or slaughtering dogs without permission shall be subject to a fine of up to seven million riel ($1,700).

Article 113 stipulates that second-time offenders will be fined between 10 and 15 million riel. Article 115 dictates that those who continue to break the law even after two offences face a prison sentence of two to five years and a fine of 10 to 50 million riel.

Tan Pannara, the director-general of the Department of Animal Health and Production at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the ban covers the whole country.

“At the moment, we are working with the World Animal Health Organisation and other partners to enforce the law to prevent the trading and slaughter of dogs for food,” he said.

Chum Vanthy, who owns a dog meat stall in Chak Angre commune in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, has been selling roasted dog since the end of last year. He said choosing to support his livelihood with this business was not easy.

“I have done a lot of business, such as selling balut [eggs with baby ducks inside], roast beef and stir-fried rice and pin noodles, but they haven’t been as good as selling dog meat. This business can improve my family’s life. I earn between 80,000 to 100,000 riel per day,” he said.

Vanthy said he bought dogs from a trader in Sa’ang Prek Touch area, in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district. Raw dog meat cost him 10,000 riel per kg and he can sell it for between 16,000 and 18,000 riel. He sells roasted dog for three times the price he pays for the meat, at 5,000 riel per dish.

Concerning the ban, Vanthy said: “I can close this shop and go back to my old business but I wish the authorities would enforce the law transparently. Don’t just ban small shops like us and take no action against the big stores.”

According to a 2019 report by Four Paws, a global animal welfare organisation based in Vienna, Austria, approximately three million dogs are slaughtered for meat every year in Cambodia.

The organisation found that Cambodia has the highest number of human rabies infections in the world due to a lack of canine vaccinations. Each year, rabies kills more than 800 people in Cambodia.

The report said extreme cruelty to animals, illegal activities such as pet theft, and rabies transmissions are inherent in the dog meat trade.

“Coupled with the unsanitary conditions found at restaurants and slaughterhouses, this means that people are being exposed to potentially deadly diseases.

“If Cambodia seriously wants to eradicate human rabies, the dog meat trade simply cannot be ignored,” the report said.

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