The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) has signed an agreement with animal rights groups to cooperate to protect dogs from the dog meat trade.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CMAC, Four Paws International and Animal Rescue Cambodia on November 30, and will urge the government for a ban on the dog meat industry nationwide, Khmer Times reported.

Heng Ratana, the director of CMAC, said the agreement aims to urge the public to stop killing dogs for their meat. The group itself uses dogs as companions for their landmine removal operations.

The director said the health of mine-sniffing and security dogs owned by CMAC will be improved and after that, they will work with the two other groups to persuade people to stop eating dog meat.

A workshop on dog breeding is also planned.

Ratana added that he hopes to lobby the government to introduce legislation in favor of dog protection. However he plans first to help raise public awareness as he feels the laws should not be rushed.

CMAC is Cambodia’s face of landmine removal. They are responsible for clearing stray mines all over the country, and also provide education on mine clearance.

Dog meat is a favored dish in Cambodia as well as in neighboring Vietnam, which is the second largest consumer of dog meat after China. Five million dogs are slaughtered in Vietnam every year.