At a seminar held in Bangkok at the Royal Navy Auditorium on November 23, representatives from the Royal Thai Navy, the Canine Police Force, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Social Development and Human security, the Ministry of Public Health and the Department of Livestock Development also suggested running education programmes and campaigns to instil a sense of responsibility and social conscience amongst the population.
Former chief of the Department of Livestock Development and chairman of the Thai Veterinary Medical Association Nirandorn Eungtrakulsuk stated that while he believed the new law would improve animal welfare and would help tackle the problem at a certain level, it would not be enough to eradicate the illegal trade because of ‘rampant corruption’ in Thailand.
“In the past, I led several raids and sent suspects to the police. But some local politicians lobbied for the release of the suspects. This discouraged the teams. The dog smuggling networks are big and have local teachers, village headmen and local leaders as suppliers. Therefore, provincial governors must focus on tackling corruption,” Mr Nirandorn said.
Co-founder of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation (SDF), John Dalley agrees that knowledge of who is acting illegally – SDF has told The Phuket News that they have full details of the leaders as they make no secret of their involvement – is not enough to ensure the stopping of the trade.
Mr Dalley said, “I believe that the latest initiative to make it illegal to export live dogs without export licenses and health certificates has been brought about by local and international pressure for Thailand to enforce the existing current legislation.”
SDF is working with agents in both Thailand and Laos to provide information on planned smuggling operations, and is passing this information on to the authorities.
However, there is concern that the decrease in illegal exports from Thailand has resulted in an increase in the number of dogs being collected from Laos to supply the demand.
The total number of dogs intercepted in Thailand since August 2011 is quoted as 9,042 – unfortunately owing to poor holding conditions, around 75 per cent of the intercepted dogs have died at the livestock centres.
Mr Dalley said, “The Department of Livestock Development, which has been given responsibility for caring for the confiscated dogs, has been given no budget to do so.”
As a consequence the SDF is currently providing food, medical supplies and basic equipment such as pressure washers to the centres. However, added Mr Dalley, “This type of aid is unsustainable and so the SDF (among other agencies) is calling upon the government to adequately provide for what are in effect innocent victims of criminal activities.
“At present it would appear the policy is to allow the dogs to die of starvation and disease.”
A follow-up meeting is planned for later this month in Bangkok.
For more information on Soi Dog, visit soidog.org