A man who was allegedly running a bestiality “club” near the northern capital of Chiang Mai has been questioned by police after an investigation lasting more than a year by animal-rights activists Watchdog Thailand (WDT).
The man was summoned for questioning after WDT showed police a video he had posted of himself having sex with a dog.
Members of WDT, which is funded by animal charity the Soi Dog Foundation, often go undercover to collect evidence to expose cases of cruelty to animals, particularly dogs and cats.
WDT alleges that, using the Line chat application, the man invited people to join the “Bobo” group for a fee of Bt200.
For that price, members could watch videos of others having sex with dogs. Once a month, members had the option to pay extra to meet dogs for “swinging sex”. A choice was offered of 10 dogs for abuse.
The Bobo leader allegedly collected and groomed young street dogs under the guise of “saving” them.
It took WDT more than a year to pin down the exact real-world location of the man, in the San Kamphaeng district of Chiang Mai province.
Once they had that information, they were ready to enlist the aid of police.
WDT posted photos of the police action, with details, on its Facebook page, sparking outrage and calls for severe penalties for all involved in running or being members of Bobo.
The Thai Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animals Act, which came into force in 2014, allows for prison terms of up to two years and/or fines of up to Bt40,000 for those found guilty of cruelty to animals.
Thus far, however, the courts have applied much lighter sentences.
Also, Article 14 of the Computer Act allows for prison terms of up to five years and/or fines of up to Bt100,000.
A WDT spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday: “We’re happy about the outcome, and even happier that we got great cooperation from the commander of the Chiang Mai police.
“The investigation will lead to the arrest of members of the group, whom we have already identified with their names and profiles. We cannot reveal the names for now, because news about the head of the group [having been identified] has already [tipped off] the rest of them.
“We will definitely continue our investigation using the information we already have.”
The Bobo police action is the fourth high-profile case involving cruelty to animals in Thailand in as many weeks.
A female DJ has also been arrested after being accused of disembowelling a kitten while it was still alive, allegedly for the enjoyment of members of a “dark” website, who paid for the so-called entertainment.
And two men were arrested in separate incidents, both after flying into a rage and violently beating to death neighbours’ dogs that had offended them.
WDT was involved in all three arrests.
The Soi Dog Foundation, which funds Watchdog Thailand, has praised WDT’s continuing courageous commitment to helping bring to justice people abusing animals physically or – in this latest case – sexually.
WDT was originally formed in 2011 as an undercover unit in Soi Dog’s drive to combat the smuggling of dogs by criminal gangs from Thailand to the dog-meat restaurants of Vietnam.
That drive, which lasted about seven years, finally killed off the illegal dog-meat trade.
Soi Dog founder John Dalley said he was glad to see the alleged Bobo Club organiser had been identified.
“Sadly,” he added, “bestiality is not limited to Thailand. It is an insidious crime often leading to the death of the animal used to entertain extremely disturbed people.
“This pervert has been operating for a long time and has finally been caught. We hope the courts will show no leniency.”
Soi Dog’s Bangkok animal-welfare director, Dr Tuntikorn Rumpatana, said that bestiality could lead to serious physical damage and health problems for the abused dogs, even leading to death.
Meanwhile, the alleged Bobo club leader denies all accusations against him, and says that a dog that appears in one of the offensive videos is now dead (poisoned by a person unknown). Another appears to be a neighbour’s dog.
As a result, police have been unable so far to take away any dogs that are believed to have been abused.