Khieu Chan, 41, who once ran a dog butcher restaurant, cried when he told him about the work that haunted him when he went to bed.

Chan used to make 6 dogs every day. "Please forgive me. If I didn't kill you, I couldn't feed my family," Chan told 10 dogs waiting to die in the barn.


A man at a dog barbecue bar in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, October 26 Photo: AFP.

Dog meat is considered a cheap source of protein and is eaten in several Asian countries, including China, Korea, Vietnam and the non-Muslim community in Cambodia. Activists say animal consumption has dropped significantly as more and more people own pets.

However, the business of selling specialty dog meat, trading and unlicensed slaughtering still takes place in many restaurants in major cities of Cambodia. About two to three million dogs are slaughtered each year, according to the non-governmental organization Four Paws. The capital of Phnom Penh has more than 100 dog meat restaurants while Siem Reap has about 20.

"It's a big business," said Kinda Polak, a veterinarian working with Four Paws. The organization reported the problem to the Cambodian government and officials were "shocked", Polak said.

People who ride motorbikes in northern Cambodia to sell pots, pans, and cookware often buy dogs, piling them in a rectangular cage at the back of the car, which they then take to the intermediary. Raw dog meat sells for US $ 2 to US $ 3 per kilogram.

Researchers say the dog meat trade poses a potential risk to public health, because the disease-carrying animal can be consumed across the country. Cambodia has one of the highest rates of rabies in the world, mostly due to dog bites.

The dog meat business also causes local dog vaccination efforts to fail, as vaccinated dogs can be killed. Not to mention, the slaughterhouses do not guarantee hygiene and safety, there are no supervisory authorities and workers not wearing protective gear.

"I have been bitten by a dog but I have not been vaccinated, because when I get home from work it is already late," Pring That, 33, said while cooking dog stew with fermented fishmeal in a village in Siem Reap. Reap. Instead, the man washed the wound with soap and lemon.


Khieu Chan (right) helps the Four Paws NGO help rescue sick dogs on October 27 Photo: AFP.

"One day expensive, I killed 10 or 12 dogs," said Hun Hoy, 59, a former soldier. "I also feel pity for the dogs, but I have to incarnate them."

Dog meat business can earn from US $ 750-1,000 per month, while the salary in garment factories is less than US $ 200. "I know this is a sin," said Dara, 30, who works in the dog meat business.

Dog meat is sold primarily to workers. Baked dishes or soups average about $ 1.25. The price is cheap and the profits are great, but the psychological trauma that dog meat dealers have to bear is enormous. Many of them say they will quit their jobs if they find a better job.

Retired dog meat restaurant owner Khieu Chan tells about the turning point in his life when he met with activists from Four Paws. They persuaded him to close the dog meat restaurant and give him land to farm.

One recent afternoon, Chan helped an NGO to get sick dogs out of a cage under a tree.

"Now you guys are free. Get out of death," Chan knelt beside them and said, before they were sent to Phnom Penh for medical treatment.