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Pet Adoption in Cambodia

By: Jamie Bennett Posted: April-16-2008 in
Jamie Bennett

So, you're thinking of becoming a pet owner in one of the world's fastest developing countries. Have you considered adopting?

In many ways it's a far better option than buying. Your pet comes already house-trained, used to being handled, knows how to socialize with other animals and is probably even vaccinated. There are no risks about its personality clashing with yours as the previous owner will be able to let you know all about the animal's history, likes, dislike and habits. It's a fool-proof way of finding the perfect pet.

There are numerous reasons why pets come up for adoption. Maybe the owner is moving into a new home that won't allow them to keep the animal. Perhaps a change in working hours means they can no longer adequately care for it. Most commonly, it's simply time for the expat owner to go back home.

At the present there is no animal shelter or pound that you can visit to select you new family member or to leave your pet at. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible or even difficult to do.

The most common way to find a pet to adopt is just by word of mouth. Ask around and plenty of opportunities shall arise. More often than not, the original owners will find you as they try to relocate their animal. Scanning the classifieds and internet forums may also return a few results, although for the most part the pets advertised are for sale, not free to a good home.

Another way to get or give away a pet is to head down to Agrovet, a French-run veterinarian clinic on Street #294, Phnom Penh. Located in their reception area is a pin board full of colorful advertisements for pre-loved pooches and cats. Some of the animals are for sale but the majority are up for adoption.

Throughout the year the veterinary will display hundreds of posters, mostly for cats. If you're after a dog you'll need to be more patient; they're not given away as often.

None of the pets you see in the photographs there are kept at Agrovet. On the odd occasion, they'll house a litter of kittens but only for 3 or 4 days before they have to move on. Pets stay with their original owners because the risk of infection from the ill animals at the clinic is too high.

If you do get a new pet, make sure to have it vaccinated if it isn't already. Kittens need to receive vaccinations for calicivirus, herpes, typhus and rabies. They should get their first shots aged two months and again when they're three months.

Puppies are at a much higher risk so they need their first set of injections aged six weeks, then eight weeks and again at three months. They need to be vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies. Distemper is a prevalent disease in Cambodia and, according to Jerome Blanchet of Agrovet, about 80% of unvaccinated dogs will contract it.

Be warned, if you decide to buy from a pet shop, most likely your new animal will get sick sooner or later. This is because the vaccine used is often void. The time the vaccines spend in transit to the veterinarians often includes hours of sitting out in the hot sun, which destroys all of the antibodies in the serum. So while you may be provided with vaccinations certificates, the shots they received were little better than water.

Adopting a pet is playing it safe. It also helps pets stay loved, not lost on the streets of Phnom Penh.

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