Cambodia’s children are being discouraged to regard dogs as meat

The dog and cat meat trade in Cambodia is thriving as it is in China and other Far Eastern countries. There is, however, a slight awakening towards the immorality, as I would describe it, of this business. There are green shoots as they say of a different relationship between these companion animals and the citizens of Cambodia.

And the evidence for this comes from a Daily Express report today, online, about a UK animal charity called NoteToDogMeat which is working with some schools in Cambodia, specifically in the Kandal province, to teach the children that companion animals are not meant to be the provider of meat for human consumption but to be companions. Note: I would desperately like the cat to be brought into these classroom sessions. Perhaps they are. But the cat is equally vulnerable to this form of animal cruelty in Asia.

NoToDogMeat classroom session to try and change the attitude of Cambodians who often regard companion dogs as meat to be consumed after a cruel death
NoToDogMeat classroom session to try and change the attitude of Cambodians who often regard companion dogs as meat to be consumed after a cruel death. Image: NoToDogMeat.
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To help to get the message across, schoolchildren are being shown dogs’ heads as you can see in the photograph in a basket to try and shock them, I guess, into thinking about dogs in a different light. It is very gruesome. I’m not sure that this is the right way to go about it but if anything can be done to reduce the terrible cruelty perpetrated on domestic, stray and feral dogs and cats in Cambodia to supply the cat and dog meat market then I’m all in favour of it.

The dog’s head that we see in the picture was purchased from a local butcher at a cost of $2.50 (£2 and UK money). And after the kids have discussed the dog’s head and discussed the sentience of animals as part of their classroom training, the head is then buried as an act of kindness to reinforce the obligation to be kind to dogs.

A great issue in Cambodia and other East Asian countries is that the older generation have been brought up on eating cat and dog meat and of course they pass this tradition down to the children. This UK charity is trying to break that tradition in an act of enlightenment.

Tet Lin, 35, who is one of the educators working for NoToDogMeat said that it is extremely difficult to change the minds of the old generation because they had nothing to eat to survive the Pol Pot regime. That’s a hint at the dire consequences of the Pol Pot regime in times gone past. But you wonder whether that is the only reason. It isn’t.

There is a general culture in eastern Asia to eat cats and dogs. You haven’t got to go far to see evidence of this on the Internet. I don’t think we can blame Pol Pot for this cultural habit. This is more about a deeply embedded culture in Asia about their relationship with animals in general. To most Western eyes it looks horribly cruel. It is an entirely different to the that in northern Europe or America.

This charity says that there is an urgent need to address the horrifying suffering on the streets of Cambodia where they round up and kill these poor animals; so brutally treated. It is an horrific story to Westerners and so anything to stop it is highly welcome to people like me.

The charity holds United Nation’s Special Consultative status. They want animal welfare laws to be strictly enforced, which implies that there are probably animal welfare laws in place already to protect these animals but law enforcement simply does not act when there are violations of the law.

In Cambodia, the province of Siem Recap has declared a commercial ban on dog meat. And in the capital Phnom Penh, apparently new rules have been recently enacted (a government statute) to restrict the trade.

The NoteToDogMeat charity commenced in 2009. A London lawyer, Julia de Cadenet saw the horrors of the dog and cat meat trade in Cambodia and started it. The charity works in China, Cambodia and the Philippines, hosting educational programs. They are also involved in rescuing animals from trucks being driven to slaughter houses and indeed from slaughterhouses themselves.

Julia, said that the children are the future in this fight against this cruelty and so they are thinking long-term in tackling it. She wants to change the hearts and minds of the children who hopefully will spread the message to others. That way when attitudes change there won’t be a need to enforce a ban because the citizens of Cambodia will not do it any more as is the case in developed countries in Europe for example.

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