The Thai Navy rescued some 800 dogs from ending up on dinner tables in Vietnam when it aborted a smuggling operation this morning on the shores of the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province.
The dogs were on a truck, crammed into small, rusty cages that were about to be loaded onto a boat that would ferry them across the river to Laos. From there, they were destined for Vietnam, to be sold in the dog-meat market.
The dogs will be sent to a shelter, where their fate could at least not be worse than it would have been. There is no word of what will become of them in the shelter – whether people will flock to adopt them or if they are just going to be put down humanely (as opposed to the horrendous ways they would be slaughtered for food; I will not go into it here.) or something in between.
Thai authorities last year stopped the transport of more than 2,000 dogs bound for Vietnam in similarly horrendous conditions. These dogs are often rounded up as strays, or bartered for in rural areas. In last year’s raid, dozens of dogs had died of suffocation in their cramped cages when Thai police found them. Two Thai men were charged with the illegal transportation and trafficking of animals. They could face a year in jail and a fine of about $600.
Sadly, the Navy rescuers found only 40 cages with dogs today, and have been able to detain only one man. They also found 100 empty cages, meaning some 2,000 dogs may already have been smuggled in this most recent operation.
It is encouraging to see the Thai government going after traffickers like this. Maybe with stiffer penalties these smugglers would find something else to do that doesn’t involve dogs. And perhaps the government will step it up when they see the positive international reaction to their efforts.