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Sterilise dogs, end the meat trade

Many of your readers will not be aware of the despicable trade in dog meat from Thailand to neighbouring countries like Vietnam and Laos that has been going on for a number of years.

We would like to bring attention to what we call this "trade of shame" and to the work of the Soi Dog Foundation (SDF), a voluntary organisation based in Phuket that has been undertaking to try and stop this trade, as well as our sterilisation programme to reduce the number of dogs on the streets.

The task is gigantic. For example, after recent interceptions there were over 5,000 rescued dogs in Nakhon Phanom, Khemmarat and Buriram livestock shelters. Today the figure is down to 4,400 with around 20 dogs dying per day, according to staff on site. The traders had kept them hidden in the jungle for days, crammed into cages without food and water, so most of the dogs are sick and not well enough to be vaccinated. Although doing their best for the dogs, the Department of Livestock Development has no budget for them, and the fund set up by the Governor of Nakhon Phanom province in August 2011 has now run out of money.

Soi Dog Foundation is currently providing food, vaccines (over 2,500 sent to Nakhon Phanom this week alone at a cost of nearly Bt250,000), and other drugs and even financing the construction of additional shelters at Buriram. However it is costing well over Bt1 million per month to support the dogs, and donations are desperately needed. Please visit www.soidog.org to learn more and donate today.

If your readers are able to offer one of the dogs a home, SDF will transport the dog to Bangkok with the support of Nok Air, and de-sex and vaccinate it free of charge. Many of the dogs are stolen pets. Prior to SDF's involvement, over 70 per cent of intercepted dogs died from starvation, disease or injury. On May 17, SDF sent a team of vets to Khemmarat to de-sex all remaining unsterilised dogs there.

Pet owners should be aware that gangs are now travelling across Thailand snatching pet dogs in addition to carrying out the old-fashioned method of purchasing unwanted animals in exchange for plastic buckets from poorer areas of the country.

No penalties have ever been imposed on the traders who are making millions of baht per year from what is an unimaginably inhumane trade. The dog meat trade and eating of dog meat is abhorred by the vast majority of Thais, and the multi-million baht industry based on incredible cruelty is run by, in effect, a criminal mafia. Despite this being open knowledge, the Thai authorities appear unable or unwilling to halt the dog meat trade at its source and thereby prevent this suffering from continuing.

Regarding sterilisation as a means of controlling animals, SDF this week reached the significant milestone of sterilising its 50,000th animal since starting in late 2003. SDF also operates in Bangkok and through mobile clinics in southern Thailand with a target of sterilising 15,000 animals per year. The foundation hopes at its current rate to have sterilised around 100,000 animals in about three years' time.

The current mobile clinic programme on Phuket, working closely with the province's local authorities, aims to have the island's stray population under control in two years and to continue the province's rabies-free status.

SDF is discussing with the Department of Livestock in Bangkok introducing a national programme based on SDF's activities on Phuket. Thailand has pledged to eradicate rabies by 2020 in accordance with ASEAN agreements.

John and Gill Dalley are the founders of the Soi Dog Foundation.


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