Heartwarming photos reveal the moment dogs received care for the first time after being saved from a dog meat farm.
Nurses bandage and treat their wounds, as the shy animals stare back, stunned at the sudden kindness after life in a rusty cage.
The dogs have been quick to recover from their trauma according to Four Paws International vet Dr Katherine Polack, who helped organised the rescue.
“I think it's truly testament to dogs as companion animals, they’re so forgiving,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“They’ve been through this horrific abuse, at the hands of dog meat traders, but they’ve really just come out of their shells so quickly.”
More than any other dog, the scruffy white coloured Apollo has shown particular resilience and trust in his rescuers.
“He was just emotionally shut down at the slaughterhouse - he looked terrible,” Dr Polack said.
“Even when we got him out of the cage, and on the exam table he wasn’t doing well.
“Fast forward to today, he’s just on top of the world, confident and strutting his stuff.”
Another dog, Daisy, was just a puppy when she was removed from the dog meat farm, saving her from being bludgeoned or choked to death in the backyard operation.
“She just leapt into the arms of her (rescuer), and just would not stop snuggling,” Dr Polack said.
“Not just during the rescue, but I was getting beautiful videos yesterday too.
“The world needs more of this right now.”
Dog meat farm shut down
To save the dogs, rescuers traveled through torrential storms to acquire the dogs, as part of the rescue mission on Wednesday.
The canines had been caged at a slaughterhouse in the Cambodian Provence of Kampong Thom, 128km north of the capital, Phnom Penh.
Up to 3,000 dogs had been killed at the farm each year, which was until now the largest supplier of the meat in the area.
The facility was closed as part of a program by Four Paws International to transition canine farmers into other areas, and the operators have been aided in setting up a grocery store.
Many dogs slaughtered in Cambodia are abandoned or stolen pets, others are strays which can carry disease such as rabies.
Disturbingly the farm’s owner reported that her business was doing better than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports suggest Cambodian health practitioners commonly prescribe dog as a medical treatment to help fight the coronavirus, despite there being no evidence that it could have any impact on the deadly virus.
Pressure to shut down dog meat trade
Despite the popularity of dog meat in some areas, younger people are shying away from the product, and governments across south east Asia are also starting to act.
After reports that coronavirus was likely linked to wildlife consumption, there has been a growing awareness across the health risks associated with eating dogs.
While there is no specific regulation that outlaws eating dog in Cambodia, the popular tourist area, Siem Reap has banned sale of the meat.
The move follows China’s announcement in May that they would ban the consumption of dog amid growing recognition that the animals are mostly seen as pets rather than livestock.
In July, the Indian state of Nagaland banned the import, trade and sale of dog meat, and in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, authorities have been calling on residents to stop eating it.
Dogs learning to trust humans again
Despite the 15 rescued dogs recuperating well, transferring them to loving homes around the world will likely be delayed due to coronavirus.
Until then, the dogs are said to be having the time of their lives, as they build trust in humans again.
Four Paws International say more dogs are expected to be rescued in the coming months.
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