Initially started as “Pagoda Patrols” in 2016, today, our Community Outreach Program follows a more integrated approach.
Animal Rescue Cambodia operates on 3 strategic pillars: neutering, education, and community outreach. In this blog article, we would like to tell you a bit more about our work with Cambodia’s local communities on a daily basis.
Pagodas, a Safe-Haven for Animals?
There is a common misconception that pagodas are a safe-haven for animals. This, unfortunately, encourages people to dump their unwanted pets there. Most pagodas have a population of 30 to 100 animals, many of whom are sick, malnourished, and neglected.
Additionally, the animals are not neutered, which leads to overpopulation and the spreading of disease. These environments also attract snatchers who steal dogs and cats from the pagoda to sell them to the meat trade.
With around 5,000 pagodas in the whole Kingdom of Cambodia, and 140 pagodas in the capital city Phnom Penh, even a conservative estimation of cats and dogs per pagoda easily equals hundreds of thousands of suffering animal lives.
Some monks and caretakers want to help, but they are unsure of how to care for the animals and the sheer numbers are overwhelming. Scarce food, overcrowding, and infectious diseases all contribute to a high mortality rate.
In the face of the current ongoing Coronavirus-situation, many local caretakers, who normally feed the pagoda animals and look after them, face increased hardship. They may have lost the little income they had or are hesitant to leave their homes in fear of contagion.
Therefore, less food and money are donated to the monks and consequently to the pagoda animals. All pagodas that we work with report a significant decrease in local food and monetary donations.
Further, the daily sight of suffering street cats and dogs has left many Cambodians with limited compassion and empathy towards animals. The lack of feeling responsible and taking ownership is overwhelming and creates an environment in which the vast majority of people choose not to help a sick or injured street animal.
Educating through Compassion
We regularly work with at least 25 pagodas in Phnom Penh. Monich (34) is ARC’s Community Outreach Coordinator. She is a vet assistant and joined ARC in May 2019.
Today, she is responsible for our Community Outreach Program. Her unique skillset includes veterinary animal care combined with passion for education on animal welfare in Cambodia.
Her main tasks include regular visits to approximately 25 Buddhist pagodas in Phnom Penh, basic medical treatment, and advice on animal care for the local residents.
She conducts impactful and participatory educational workshops, involving monks, nuns, pagoda residents, private animal caretakers, and school children. She also visits schools on pagoda sites and community events to educate on responsible pet ownership and pet adoption.
Monich feeds, medically checks pagoda cats and dogs, and discusses animal welfare with the locals. If she comes across animals, which are medically unfit to stay at the pagoda, she brings them to our center for treatment. Once their condition improves, they are released back to their pagoda and owner.
If they don’t have an owner or it is not medically safe for them to return to their pagoda, we look for loving forever (or foster) homes. Click here to see the ARC cats and dogs currently waiting for adoption. Monich also has many practical tips on how everyone with limited resources can care for their cats and dogs.
Monich’s love for animals is inspiring. Even in her spare time, she visits communities and often takes sick ARC rescue animals home to care for them. To keep learning, she now started to study to become a doctor of veterinary medicine.
Our Outreach Program Impact
On average, in 1 month, through our Outreach Program, we are able to
- visit 15 communities, where a total of 700 animals live
- train & actively involve 48 active community members on animal care
- provide basic medical care to more than 200 animals
- provide advanced medical care to more than 60 animals
- vaccinate more than 100 animals against rabies and other diseases
We are able to carry out our work to achieve sustainable animal welfare in Cambodia, only with your dedicated support! Thank you for that. We know you do this out of love and kindness, and we highly appreciate your financial and in-kind donations!
The Silk Island Program
With the support of our long-term partner Four Paws International, we have launched a new outreach project in July 2020.
The goal is to desex and vaccinate at least 80% of the street cats and dogs on Silk Island (Koh Dach) in Phnom Penh within the next 3 years (2020-2022).
Positive Long-Term Effects
Life for pagoda animals used to be very difficult. Over time, it has drastically changed. We have seen remarkable improvements in health and longevity due to our work with the locals that help care for the animals on location.
However, without the donations and sponsorships of our valued supporters, none of this would be possible. Thank you for being a part of Animal Rescue Cambodia!