The Thai government is expected to declare a national agenda to end the trade of dogs destined for human consumption, the nongovernmental organisation, Soi Dog Foundation (SDF) said in its press release released on Tuesday.
SDF reported that a seminar, which saw the participation of many governmental agencies including the public health ministry and livestock department, agreed to a request that the prime minister declare a national agenda to end the trade of dogs in Thailand.
They also suggested education programmes and campaigns to instil a sense of responsibility and social conscience in Thai people.
Whilst he believed the new law would improve animal welfare and fight against cruelty to animals, thus tackling the problem at a certain level, Nirandorn Eungtrakulsuk, former chief of Livestock Development and chairman of the Thai Veterinary Medical Association, said it would not be enough to eradicate the illegal trade because corruption is rampant in Thailand.
SDF said it welcomed this initiative, which it believes has been brought about by local and international pressure for Thailand to enforce current legislation under which it is illegal to export live dogs without export licenses and health certificates. However, SDF agrees with Nirandorn that the level of corruption associated with the trade will make it difficult for the authorities to stamp it out.
Pol Lt Col Chatchai Setthiphanian of the Canine Police Force said that harsher penalties should be imposed against dog smugglers. The current legislation allows for up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a Bt40,000 fine, but no such penalty has ever been imposed.
SDF also believes that the Special Investigation Bureau should be called in to investigate the known leaders of the trade, one of whom has stated that the trade earns them Bt1 billion per year, tax free. It has also been suggested that the dog meat trade may also be masking drug trafficking and the illegal trade in wildlife.
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.