Over the past several years, FOUR PAWS has expanded its reach into Southeast Asia, which gives us now the opportunity to take up the fight against this horrendous trade. With our network of local charity partners in the region (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia) we have the chance to make a change for the animals, to stop the brutal dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia.
Here is an overview of the individual countries' situation regarding dog and cat meat.
Despite it taking the lives of up to 3 million dogs annually, the dog meat trade in Cambodia has received little attention in recent years compared with neighbouring Vietnam. Dog meat in Cambodia is referred to as ‘special meat’ and is often consumed with beer or rice wine on social occasions. Motivations for dog meat consumption vary – besides consumption of dog and cat meat on social occasions, many believe that dog meat has medicinal properties, from boosting virility to keeping the body warm during Cambodia’s ‘colder’ months. According to a market research study conducted by FOUR PAWS, overall a shocking 53.6% of respondents indicated that they have eaten dog meat at some time in their lives (72.4% of males and 34.8% of females). In the capital city of Phnom Penh, FOUR PAWS investigators have visited a total of 110 dog meat restaurants, most of which had started up within the last two years, as the trade continues to grow.
FOUR PAWS runs a Saving Pagoda Animals programme with the local charity Animal Rescue Cambodia. This programme focuses on helping animals in pagodas (temples) in and around the capital of Phnom Penh. Buddhist pagodas are commonly the dumping ground for unwanted animals with many having abandoned dogs and cats living on site. FOUR PAWS and Animal Rescue Cambodia help the pagoda animals by providing food, veterinary care and educating the monks and their staff on how to take care of the animals. Unfortunately, pagodas are also the hunting ground for dog and cat thieves who steal animals living on the grounds of the pagodas for the dog and cat meat trade.
In Vietnam, it is estimated that up to 5 million dogs are brutally trafficked and killed for their meat every year. Ever-increasing demand has forced suppliers to look beyond the villages where dogs have traditionally been taken and out to towns and cities all over the country and beyond. Snatching of strays and pets is so common now that cases of thieves being physically attacked by enraged pet owners are becoming more common. In Vietnam, dog meat has been linked to regional outbreaks of trichinosis, cholera and rabies in humans. While the dog meat trade is often defended as ‘tradition’, the reality is that there are significant health and societal impacts associated with the trade and these are becoming of ever-growing concern within Vietnam and internationally.
Cat meat, commonly referred to as ‘little tiger’, is becoming increasingly more popular among restaurants in Vietnam, particularly in the North, but receives far less attention in international and local press. The number of cats trafficked in Vietnam every year is unknown but is most likely to be several million. Welfare concerns for cats in the industry are similar to those for dogs.
FOUR PAWS operates a unique program in Central Vietnam, 'Cats Matter Too', with local charity partners Vietnam Cat Welfare and PAWS for Compassion. The “Cats Matter Too” programme aims to help to humanely manage the population of strays in Vietnam, and works to save animals from the cat meat trade through teaching local communities how to keep their cats safe at night, investigating and documenting the cruelty within the trade and rescuing cats who have been stolen for the trade.
FOUR PAWS is also a member of the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) an alliance of international animal welfare organisations, which focuses on combating the dog meat trade in Vietnam. ACPA works on various initiatives to document the dog meat trade, including working with the government towards an end of the trade.
In Indonesia, according to estimates over one million dogs and hundreds of thousands of cats are traded for their meat every year. Rabies positive dogs are being moved to supply highly-populated cities that are often dog meat eating 'hot spots' throughout the nation, including those areas that have worked to secure “rabies-free” status, such as the capital city of Jakarta. The World Health Organization has explicitly highlighted the dog meat trade as a contributing factor to the spread of rabies in Indonesia – a deadly disease that has a devastating impact on human and animal health.
Although dog meat is only consumed by a minority of Indonesians – estimated at less than 7% nationwide and < 1% in Jakarta – and only a tiny fraction of society is reliant on it as a primary source of income, the trade threatens the health and safety of the entire nation. If Indonesia is to achieve its goal to eliminate rabies by 2020, urgent action is required by the government and all sectors of society.
FOUR PAWS’ is a leading member of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition. DMFI works on various initiatives to end the dog meat trade in Indonesia, including campaigning, researching and investigating the situation and lobbying the government and local decision-makers for change. In Indonesia, FOUR PAWS is also in the process of signing a partnership agreement with the charity Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) to support the creation of an online animal welfare education platform. This will focus on educating school children on responsible pet ownership, stray animal care and the dangers of the dogs meat trade. FOUR PAWS also run a Stray Animal Care (SAC) programme in Balikpapan with the local group, Pro Natura to neuter stray and community cats and encourage responsible pet ownership.
Our vision is to end the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia) by 2030. Our ultimate goals are that:
- Dogs and cats are not stolen and trafficked for their meat
- The public and government understand that dog meat poses a risk to rabies control
- Communities stand up to pet theft and the trade
- There is an end in the demand for dog and cat meat
The dog and cat meat trade is the ultimate betrayal to animals which serve as loyal companions. We want to end the inconceivable suffering of millions of animals, but we need your help.