Dog eat dog

April 7, 2015

I was sad to miss an interesting little rally held in central Phnom Penh last weekend, because it concerned a subject which I find quite interesting: pet meat. I was also saddened that I missed it, because it was very nearly violently broken up by the police, and I quite fancy a little bit of a rumble with the filth, when I’ve got right on my side.

Eating dogs and cats is common in Cambodia, even if it doesn’t appear in many tourist guides. I’ve never bothered, mainly because the sort of restaurants that serve dog meat are so foul as to require immediate giant doses of worm medicine, once the food poisoning finally wears off.

A few years ago Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema even encouraged the eating of dog, and said banning dog meat would hurt the city. “Come on, dog meat is so delicious,” he said. “The Vietnamese and Koreans love to eat dog meat.” Dog meat should be sold openly in the markets, he said, because poor people eat dog meat. “They don’t have [nice] wine, but poor people can enjoy their dog meat with palm juice wine,” Kep said.



My landlord has had three dogs stolen since we’ve been here, all taken for the pot. He seems pretty blasé about it. His latest response is to own a dog that just looks incredibly unappetizing. This one has been unmolested for more than a year. But we have to take a lot of care when we walk Harley the Wonder Dog, as plenty of casual passers-by see 12 kilos of tasty protein strolling by on the end of a leash, and not the apogee of canine evolution that we do.

Harley, Hammer of the Dogs

Harley, Hammer of the Dogs

But the “Say No To Dog Meat” rally on Sunday, which seems to have been organized mainly by expats, was banned on the spot by the authorities, despite the event being initially sanctioned by the local council. Some 25 owners, with about 30 dogs, gathered at Neak Banh Teuk Park, intending to walk their dogs to another nearby park for a speech, and to circulate a petition for a law banning the trade of dogs and cats for consumption.

But instead, several van-loads of angry policeman turned up and started remonstrating with the walkers, shouting at them and telling them they would be arrested and their dogs kicked to death if they didn’t disperse.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipality could not permit people marching with animals. “We understand [if] they walk to campaign against trafficking or eating animals such as dog, but we don’t allow a walk like that,” Dimanche told a local paper. “It’s not normal.”

Now, I can understand that the authorities might be concerned if the march had involved thousands of woefully underpaid and underfed garment workers asking for better pay and conditions. But 25 expats with fluffy dogs? What’s the worst that could happen? And they were all, to a man, apparently carrying plastic bags to scoop up any dogshit that might have been unloaded upon Phnom Penh’s pristine streets.

As I say, I’m fairly neutral on the subject of eating dogs. I’d prefer not to do it much myself, but surely, if we eat everything else on god’s green earth, what’s wrong with chowing down on a little chow? Pigs are thought to be smarter than dogs, but I bet many of the Phnom Penh Puppy Posse had a bacon sandwich that morning.

I’d obviously be furious, and inconsolable, if someone stole and ate the Mighty Harley. Probably about as much as I would be if someone stole and ate my brother. But other people’s dogs? Maybe not so much. A western paper recently asked a diner at a dog restaurant in Vietnam if it made any difference to him that his meal could be someone’s pet. “No,” he said. “It’s not my pet, so I don’t really care.”

No, what gets me is the hypocrisy of the authorities in getting out the jackboots to hassle 25 dog owners on a Sunday afternoon.

First they came for the Socialists…


One Response to “Dog eat dog”

  1. Bad enough that they are eating “companion” animals but, do they have to
    cause such pain and suffering to the animal before the torture mercifully ends. They are all ignorant barbarians as far as l’m concerned. I hope that they all die a slow and very painful death. Perhaps then the dogs/cats suffering would not have been in vain. These so-called-human beings are vile and disgusting.

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