Ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap include everything from donating to local veterinary clinics and animal welfare groups to supporting NGOs that train hero rats and dogs to find landmines in Cambodia and save people’s lives.
We often get asked about ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap by travellers heading to Cambodia. And who doesn’t want to travel responsibly and be a better traveller and do some good and give back to the places they travel to?
So we thought it time to create a guide to the organisations, businesses and tireless individuals who devote their time to rescuing, treating, caring for, and saving the lives of animals in Siem Reap and surrounds.
If you’ve travelled in Southeast Asia, you might be aware of organisations such as the Soi Dogs Foundation in Thailand and BAWA on Bali that do invaluable work ranging from rescuing pets from dog meat restaurants to feeding animals abandoned during Bali’s volcano evacuation.
Siem Reap doesn’t have an established animal welfare organisation operating on that scale with the ability to quickly raise funds for resources when needed, but there are registered NGOs, small businesses, collectives of people, and individuals here undertaking the same kind of work.
Here are some ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap by donating and supporting these selfless people – and they always need help as their work is never-ending.
Ways Animal Lovers Can Help Animals in Siem Reap
Late one night in a Siem Reap bar four years ago, a couple of travel and food writers I know were catching up with friends when one of them suddenly put down his drink and dashed outside. He returned with the tiniest black kitten, not much larger than his hand, with the biggest, bald, pointy ears they’d ever seen.
The kitten was skinny and stinky, with a runny wet nose and puss-filled eyes that she could barely open. He’d saved her from being run over by a tuk tuk as she blindly attempted to cross the road. Undoubtedly the runt of the litter, she’d been left behind. His wife put the kitten in her handbag.
The couple decided to take the kitten to a vet, nurse her back to health and find her a forever home, as it wasn’t a very good idea for travel writers who had to travel frequently for their work to adopt a street cat. They named her Pepper, after Kampot’s celebrated product.
These days the couple travel far less than they used to, but they don’t regret it for a second. Pepper brings joy to their lives and there are people in Siem Reap doing far more to rescue cats from the street and dogs from the ‘special meat’ restaurants. It’s the least they could do. Here’s what you can do…
Ways Animal Lovers Can Help Animals in Siem Reap – What You Can Do
Aside from adopting a street cat or dog, some of the ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap include donating money to local veterinary clinics and supporting NGOs that train hero dogs and rats to find landmines. If you have other ideas please leave them in the comments below and we’ll add them here.
One of the best ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap is by donating money to the NGOs, small businesses, collectives, and individuals in Siem Reap who are helping animals. They can always use cold hard cash to buy food, medicine, and pay vets for treatment. Money is also required to undertake rescues, such as buying dogs that wait in cages to be slaughtered for the rotisserie at ‘special meat’ restaurants.
While money is appreciated and can always be used, resources such as quality animal feed, medicine, veterinarian equipment, and so on, are also needed. For people who aren’t cash-rich this might be a better option as you could collect items needed from other animal lovers in your home country.
Always check with the organisation or individual you want to help as to what their needs are before you do your packing. Better than carting over some things that could easily be purchased here, which supports small businesses in Siem Reap, such as pet food.
Donate Your Time
Volunteers, especially volunteer vets, are always welcome in Siem Reap – animals, unlike children, aren’t as emotionally scarred by adult humans entering their lives for a time and then leaving them. Contact the organisations, businesses or individuals, below, well in advance of your trip if you wish to volunteer your time.
Adopt a Street Cat or Dog
One of the best ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap is buy adopting a street cat or dog. While that might sound easier for a local or expat to do, there are people who for a small fee can help facilitate export of animals, including organising shots and government paperwork.
If you’re a local or expat considering adopting a rescue dog or cat, please don’t act as spontaneously as our travel writer friends did and think through the decision first. You need to make sure that breed of animal is suited to your personality, family or home environment, that you can afford to keep the animal, and if you’re an expat, you really need to give the decision some serious thought.
What’s best for these animals, especially dogs that have been mistreated and need to develop trust in human beings again, are forever homes. As an expat, you might think you’re doing good, but you’re not if you’re going to abandon your pet when you move to another country after a few years and want to leave the pet behind.
Sponsor a Street Cat or Dog
Sponsoring a cat or dog is another of the great ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap. It’s different to adopting although maybe you’ll decide to adopt the animal at a later date. Sponsoring means that you undertake to support a particular animal through its treatment, rehabilitation, and re-homing.
Sponsoring an animal tends to come about after a traveller has visited and developed a fondness for an animal, or perhaps they’ve read about the animal’s predicament on social media and want to provide support.
Symbolically Adopt a Hero Rat or Dog
Another one of the ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap is to symbolically adopt an animal and both Apopo and Explosive Detection Dogs, below, offer symbolic adoption, as well as sponsorship opportunities. Through Apopo you can adopt a Hero Rat – or gift an adoption of a Hero Rat – for as little as US$7 a month, while it costs US$20 a month to sponsor a puppy to be trained by NPA Explosive Detection Dogs. More details below.
Foster an Animal
If you love animals, live in Cambodia, and have the resources and time (perhaps you work from home?) and want to help but can’t commit to providing a forever home, then why not volunteer as a foster parent? The people who rescue animals off the streets (or worse) in Siem Reap often need to place animals somewhere after they’ve been treated until a permanent home can be found.
Spread the Word on Social Media
If you’re in a position to donate, visit, volunteer, foster, or adopt, another of the ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap is to provide support on social media by spreading the word about the issues, sharing stories of the organisations and people who are helping animals, and supporting their fund-raising efforts by sharing posts on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so that your shares reach people who can help.
Organisations and Businesses Animal Lovers Can Help in Siem Reap
This is a list of some of those organisations, businesses and individuals who offer myriad ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap, as well as some organisations that train hero animals to save human lives. We are happy to keep adding to this list so please leave names and details in the comments below.
Siem Reap Veterinary Care
New Zealand trained veterinarian Dr Trish Johansen runs this fine Siem Reap veterinary hospital and receives animals in need of care for free treatment, vaccinations and neutering, paid for by international funding and donors. The animals are often brought to the clinic by volunteers who have found them on the streets and in villages or are brought in by local pet owners who can’t afford treatment. The clinic accepts donations of money as well as clinical equipment, technology, medicines, and products, which they currently buy overseas, as little is available in Cambodia (“even buying a tick collar can be cost prohibitive”). Dr Trish started the Cambodian Rabies Eradication Program (CREP) and is passionate about improving the health of Cambodian cattle so locals can improve their lives. If you donate, the clinic will show you where your money goes so that you are involved if you wish to be. Dr Trish welcomes experienced volunteer veterinarians, vets, interns, and clinic managers for three months minimum. More details on the Siem Reap Veterinary Care website.
Ouk Hok Sy Veterinary Clinic
Ran by a tireless hardworking Cambodian veterinarian, Dr Buntha, Ouk Hok Sy Veterinary Clinic seems to turn no animal away, even when there’s a long line of pet owners queuing at the door. Dr Buntha is supported by dedicated and equally hardworking volunteers, such as Nicole Kramer. Dr Buntha is the first point of call for many Cambodians who can’t afford treatment for their pets, as well as unwanted pets who are dumped on his doorstep. When he’s not out in the community performing surgeries, testing for diseases, and visiting pagodas, where monks take care of many homeless animals, Dr Buntha operates out of a dilapidated shed of bare bricks, wire mesh and corrugated iron in the Wat Damnak neighbourhood. There are plans to build Dr Buntha a new clinic and donations are welcome for that project, as well as for treatments, equipment, medicines, pet food, and more. Scan the Ouk Hok Sy Veterinary Facebook page to see the wide-ranging work he does for the community and to learn how donations are used.
Siem Reap Pagoda Cats
Expat Josette Vaneur started Siem Reap Pagoda Cats in 2013 to promote the care and adoption of stray cats at Buddhist pagodas after discovering many operate as de-facto animal shelters, housing dozens of animals. Cambodians have long taken unwanted pets to the nearest pagoda, from unexpected litters of kittens and puppies to sick animals they don’t know how to treat or whose treatment they can’t afford to pay. Others take stray animals they find that are in need of care to the monks to look after. Every day Josette visits pagodas to feed the cats, as well as provide basic treatments, such as cleaning their eyes and ears, worming, treating for fleas and ticks, cleaning wounds, and calling in vets when needed. Josette has a fully equipped clinic at her home for the pagoda cats, where sterilisations are performed by visiting volunteer vets, sick and injured cats and kittens are treated, and cats are quarantined and rehabilitated. Since starting, Josette has expanded her mission to assist dogs as well as the monks themselves. She welcomes donations of pet food or cash to purchase food, as well as sponsorship, and can facilitate fostering and adoption of animals. If you’re a vet who’d like to volunteer or you’re a tourist who’d like to join Josette to visit the pagoda cats, get in touch via the Siem Reap Pagoda Cats website or Facebook page.
Paw Patrol Cambodia
Paw Patrol Cambodia was founded by expats Jen Cartmill and Derek O’Cuilleagáin in late 2017, after the pair spent 14 months carrying cans of dog food around with them to feed undernourished dogs they came across on the streets and in pagodas. They operate along similar lines to the Siem Reap Pagoda Cats, with a focus on feeding hungry dogs and cats, as well as providing outreach services and taking animals to the vets when needed. They welcome donations, contact by volunteer vets, and welcome tourists who wish to donate pet food and join them on their daily rounds. You can contact them via the Paw Patrol Cambodia Facebook page.
NPA Explosive Detection Dogs
Visiting the NPA Explosive Detection Dogs centre near the airport is one of the easiest ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap. During twice-daily demonstrations you can watch beautiful Belgian Malinois dogs, whose job is to find unexploded bombs, show you how they save lives. What many Siem Reap visitors don’t realise is that regional and civil wars from the mid-1960s to 1998 left Cambodia with countless landmines and other unexploded ordinance scattered across the country. Some 64,000 Cambodians have lost limbs and lives since hostilities ended and barely a week passes when we don’t hear about the death or maiming of a farmer or child who has stumbled upon a landmine or bomb in the countryside. Established by Norwegian People’s Aid, a non-profit organisation working on humanitarian disarmament projects around the world and a global leader in mine and explosive detection dog training, the NPA Explosive Detection Dogs are trained to seek out landmines and bombs to protect Cambodian lives. During their shows you’ll learn about dog behavioural psychology and witness how intelligent, skilled and agile these dogs are as you watch them in action using the search techniques they employ each day out in the field. Shows are on Monday-Friday 8.30-9.30am and 4-5pm. Proceeds from tickets ($7 foreigners, $3 Cambodians) are injected back into the organisation. Donations are also welcome and puppies can be sponsored. More details on the NPA Explosive Detective Dogs website.
If you have any other suggestions for ways animal lovers can help animals in Siem Reap please leave your tips and details in the comments below.