Dogs will no longer be allowed inside temples in Angkor Park, and pet owners bringing in their animals will be fined and have their pet confiscated, Siem Reap Provincial Governor Sou Phirin said Sunday.
The decision was made Thursday during his meeting with the government agency Apsara Authority, which manages Angkor, and the Interior Ministry’s heritage police, Sou Phirin said.
“I have notified all hotels and guesthouses last week that we don’t permit any kind of dogs to tour the temples,” he said. When dogs leave excrement inside a Buddhist temple, he said, “This is not good for our culture.”
Police stations throughout the park have been enforcing the ban since Saturday, said Tan Chay of the heritage police.
The rule applies to all dogs, whether they belong to tourists or villagers living in the park.
Even police patroling at night are not allowed to bring their dogs inside the temples anymore, he said.
Up to now, visitors traveling with their dogs would sometimes take them along to tour the temples, said Seung Kong, deputy director of Apsara Authority. “Some foreigners regard their dogs as family,” he said.
The pets of the 27,000 villagers living in Angkor Park never climb the temples, said Tek Sakana Savuth of the NGO Angkor Participatory Development Organization, which works with the 20 villages in the park. He added that he agreed with the ban.
In the past, villagers who brought their cows to graze near the temples would bring their dogs along, he said. But since Apsara Authority prohibited them from bringing cattle to the temples in 2000, villagers’ dogs don’t come near the temples, he said.
This ban is the latest in a series of park regulation developments in recent weeks. In August, a tuk-tuk protest over an Apsara Authority decision to bar tuk-tuks, taxis and mini-buses from taking visitors directly to the temples ended with Prime Minister Hun Sen reversing the decision.