The dogs knew they were going to die. They had seen the other dogs stuffed into the cage with them pulled violently out and sent to a violent death filled with suffering. These dogs were part of the Southeast Asia dog meat trade, and their fate was going to be the same as hundreds of thousands of dogs in this part of the world every year. But this time, for these dogs, it would be different, thanks to Michale Chour and The Sound of Animals rescue operation.
These particular dogs were confined to cramped, filthy cages in a slaughterhouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia. “This one is well-known in Siem Reap for selling [dog meat] in the streets and has a big share of the dog meat trade,” Chour explained. “Even tourists buy dog meat from them to try it.”
Sadly, this horrific practice is legal in Cambodia, and Chour's organization has no legal standing by which to seize and rescue all the dogs. Chour did what he could on this occasion by negotiating the sale of seven of the caged dogs. But the dogs didn't trust any human beings, so when Chour and his fellow rescuers opened the cage to get the dogs out, they backed fearfully into the corners, expecting pain and death to follow.
That's when Chour did something to try to gain their trust: he stepped into the cramped cage with them!
“Most of the dogs were frozen in fear and confusion, not knowing how to react except staying quite still,” Chour said. “Two of the dogs were very anxious and volatile so it was important not to provoke them.” He stayed in the cage with the dogs for over an hour until they had relaxed enough to move them out.
“It was important for the dogs to understand that my presence was not a source of threat,” Chour said. “They needed time to understand that and to be convinced that they were safe. It was also an opportunity for the dogs to experience physical contact of gentleness and kindness in order to establish more positive results in their rehabilitation process after the rescue operation.”
Chour and the rescuers gently transferred each of the seven dogs from the cage to their truck. While Chour was thrilled to give these seven dogs a chance at a new life, he deeply regretted not being able to save the hundreds of dogs left behind. “I sat for a long time near their cages, asking them to forgive me,” he said.
The seven dogs were brought back to The Sound of Animals' rescue facility in Thailand where they began their recovery. “These dogs’ personalities changed so much within the first 12 hours,” Chour said. “On the first morning at the shelter, every one of them showed trust and joy.”
As a bonus for his rescue efforts, Chour found out one of the dogs he rescued was pregnant! She has since given birth to five healthy puppies. Instead of saving just seven dogs, Chour, in fact, saved twelve. “To see the babies born at my shelter alive and healthy…is just so incredible, and so, so sweet,” Chour said. “It gives me hope in this new year.”
The dogs will all be adopted out and can be transported to families abroad. Contact The Sound of Animals if you're interested in adopting one of these lucky pups, or donate to the organization if you'd like to help save more dogs from the Southeast Asian meat trade. Watch Chour's rescue video of these dogs, and then share this story with your friends on Facebook.