Taken off the streets as strays or stolen as pets from their homes: around 10 million dogs and cats in Southeast Asia face this fate every year. After they are captured, the dogs are kept in alarming conditions until slaughtered.
Fortunately, some of the dogs were lucky and escaped a shortened life full of terrible misery. Five dogs rescued from a minivan now wait for new homes in Switzerland. Their stories of survival shed light on the many remaining victims of this cruel trade, which still need our help.
In cooperation with our partners and the Swiss animal shelter Paradiesli, these five dogs symbolize hope to end the brutal dog and cat meat trade for good.
Read more about why they came to Switzerland here.
Akio's new owners are overjoyed and share their first moments with him:
"Soon it will be two months that our Mister Brinkman, now Akio, will be living with us. The first days he only slept and remained a very calm dog.
Since day one there have been no problems with our other dog Kaya. The two of them get along really well and Kaya helps him settle in. In the meantime he has new dog friends that make him more confident to be around humans – to get some cuddles and treats. He is a little gourmet and does not eat everything.
Day by day he is getting more and more comfortable with us and is warming up to us. He can be very funny and makes you smile with his special looks, habits and yoga positions while sleeping. Typical for his young age, he naturally tests the one or other limit and can also be really stubborn sometimes. At the same time, we are getting to know his limits better and better, such as environments with too many stimuli, which can sometimes cause him to panic.
With our trainer, Akio is learning "how to learn" and his curiosity is helping him to overcome his fear and insecurity in certain unfamiliar everyday situations or with other dogs. Everyone likes him immediately!
We will certainly have a lot more to come, because Akio has his very own character and learns quickly – of course this also includes nonsense, which he learns from Kaya. He has shown a good hunting instinct from the very beginning, but he has a good recall.
He immediately accepted our tomcat (Kaya had told him to do so).
Apart from that, Akio loves to cuddle, eats cat poop and cat toys and thinks wet grass and rain are totally stupid – all in all, he's just a dream dog.
We very much hope that Akio's/Brinkman's companions will find a home soon, too. FOUR PAWS and Paradiesli have taken them in so well after their difficult start in this world and prepared them for their future life that they will surely bring as much joy to all future forever homes as Akio did to us."
Elli's new family tells us about their decision-making and getting-to-know-you phase:
"Since 7th of November, Elli has been living with us, a family with two boys, 12 and 15 years old, and our old lady, cat Luna. We are long-time cat owners, respect and appreciate animals of all kinds, but are still beginners as dog owners.
Our younger son has always wanted a dog. That's why we have looked into the subject of dogs intensively, visited breeders and also read a lot. We weighed up the pros and cons and discussed them together. When the opportunity arose to apply for a dog from the animal rescue program of FOUR PAWS, we saw the chance to put our idea into practice and at the same time to take a dog into our family that was looking for a home.
On our first visit we were immediately drawn to Elli. Every other meeting ensured us that we could offer Elli the home she needed and she felt comfortable with us.
As I said, we are novice dog owners, but not naive, so we had some reservations about taking direct responsibility for a dog with an unknown, possibly traumatic past. We wanted to be sure that we would not ask too much of either Elli or our cat.
The companionship from the Paradiesli animal shelter and of course Elli's wonderful, reserved and kind nature helped us to quickly overcome our concerns.
In the meantime, Elli has built up a lot of trust, especially with her owner. She is relaxed at home and seems to fully enjoy her new surroundings, the lively housemates, cat Luna and the extended walks. Elli has quickly found her place in our "pack" and knows/follows the rules at home very well. Outside on our walks Elli shows a strong sense of hunting and is a master in sniffing out various scent traces. We still have a lot to practice, to learn and to steer her in a different direction. She still gets scared in certain situations, but she is now able to go for a walk in more lively surroundings and driving in the car is getting better and better. We were even able to have Christmas dinner in the bistro of Nonno's centre for the elderly and Elli showed her most charming side. We get support and valuable tips from a dog trainer. At the moment it's still one-to-one, but as soon as possible it will be in the dog school.
Yes, we can say with certainty that it was the right decision. We are happy to have Elli with us and look forward to many more adventures with her."
The first-time dog owners share their first challenges and progress with dog Rhodey:
"Rhodey has been living with us for almost seven weeks now and, after a bit of a bumpy start, has settled in well and is making progress every day.
Before we "adopted" Rhodey, we had already been looking into the subject of dogs for some time and were in contact with a dog trainer who now continues to support us. During our first visit to the Paradiesli shelter, we were allowed to meet three of the five dogs rescued in Cambodia. It was immediately clear to the Paradiesli team that Rhodey would be an ideal match for us.
Rhodey is our first dog and the start was a bit bumpy, because Rhodey was so afraid of the staircase and the front door in our block of flats that she could neither be moved in nor out. This made taking her on walks a real challenge. However, with the help of our dog trainer, we were able to address the problem quickly. In many other situations, Rhodey is still easily overwhelmed and jumpy. She is also suspicious of strangers. However, things are getting better and luckily the New Year's Eve fireworks were not a big issue for her.
In the meantime, Rhodey has settled in well and is now testing her limits. We have to remain consistent! With the help of our dog trainer, we are currently teaching Rhodey the "dog ABC". "Sit" and "Stay" are already working well, at least in low-stimulus environments. Outside we are still practising. She is also making good progress in mating training. Rhodey learns quickly and enjoys training and intelligence games, which she masters very well after a short time. We are amazed at how quickly she has settled into our home and how well she follows all the "rules". She makes us laugh every day anew and gives us a lot of joy.
On our walks, Rhodey's pronounced hunting instinct and her speed become apparent. Every mouse hole and mole hole is sniffed at intensively, and every blackbird and crow is chased and barked after. In order for Rhodey to be able to use her nose optimally, we often play search games with her and have already started with simple tracking training. As soon as she has mastered the basic commands and can attend regular dog school, we will keep her busy with tracking training or man trailing, which I am sure she will enjoy.
Rhodey has a very gentle, good-natured nature. She likes to be stroked and tries very hard to do everything "right". Only her greediness sometimes puts a spanner in the works. If she finds something edible, whether inside or outside, it is sucked away like a hoover.
We are looking forward to the future with Rhodey and to many adventures we hope to have with her. We are also very excited about her further development and look forward to continuing to learn and train with her."
Shark's new dog owners on the intense getting-to-know-you phase:
"She has settled in really well and is doing great in the dog training sessions. The recall works quite well and she is also very eager to learn.
She has already been to the vet and had her vaccinations, which she did well. Both we and Shark are enjoying the beautiful weather. Shark loves to sunbathe on our sheltered balcony.
She also enjoys digging for mice in the field, although she hasn't caught any (yet).
We are happy to have found a great four-legged companion in her."
Wanda's new owner reports on her and Wanda's progress from a dog's perspective:
"I have been living in Buchs, Zurich since 3 January 2023 and have settled in really well with Simona since then.
Every Monday, when my new owner is at the office, I get to spend the day at doggy daycare, where I have already made lots of new friends. The more time goes by, the more I trust my new human and show it as much as I can. Every day she trains with me such funny words as "sit", "here", "chörbli (dog bed)" and many more. It's really exhausting, but for her sake, I do as well as I can. Except when I don't feel like it and my cheeky side slowly but surely comes out again and again. Then it may well be that my owner has to take a bit of action.
I am allowed to go riding with her on Thursday afternoons/evenings. A good friend of my human always takes me for a walk in the forest while Simona rides. We always meet again on the way so that I know Simona won't leave me alone. The Thursday round is the most fun for me because it is a long walk and there is a lot to discover (fields, a big forest, little brooks and much more). Last Thursday I actually caught my first mouse and proudly presented it to the two of them. But I don't think they were as happy as I was... I don't understand...
Next week I'm going on holiday for the first time with Simona and her partner Remo. We are going to Gstaad to a dog-friendly hotel for two nights and three days. After that, they will spontaneously see where we can visit some nice places.
Driving in a car is still hard for me, but I can already relax a little and lie down in the box. But I'm still very nervous and unfortunately, I also feel a bit sick, but it gets better and better with time.
Young men are still very suspicious and scare me. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to trust Remo or Simona's brother, Silvan. But both of them are really trying hard to win my love and trust. It's a completely different story with Simona's mum. I like her and her boyfriend, who also has a dog called Lesco. We have already gone for walks together several times and I have been able to play with Lesco.
As you can see, I am developing very well and have already been to the vet where my vaccinations were renewed and I had a complete check-up – I am very healthy.
Thank you for taking such good care of me until I found this loving home and can just be myself."
The reason they were brought to Switzerland
In general, FOUR PAWS always tries to find homes for rescued dogs in the local countries.
For this particular situation, FOUR PAWS decided to take an individual case because of the situation on the ground:
- In July 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture of Siem Reap Province took action to enforce an official ban on the dog meat trade.
- In February 2021, government officials intercepted a minivan with 61 live dogs destined for slaughter. They arrested the trader and called FOUR PAWS for help.
For dogs and cats rescued from the dog and cat meat trade, there is little to no local capacity for long-term care and rehoming.
Animal placements do not have a long tradition in Southeast Asia and are only slowly establishing themselves. In the case of the 61 dogs, only 30 have found a new home.
To help the animals find a loving home quickly after their traumatic experiences, FOUR PAWS has decided to place these animals in Europe as an exception.