June 24, 2013
Survivors of the Dog Meat Trade
In April 2013, more than 2,000 dogs were intercepted and seized as smugglers attempted to ship them out of Thailand via Laos. They were bound for Vietnamese restaurants, victims of the illegal dog meat trade.
Overwhelmed and at risk
Our local partner organization, Soi Dog Foundation, put out a call for help after the shelter that took in the dogs—already caring for more than 1,000 animals—in swelled to overcapacity and disease began to spread.
Led by Dr. Rey del Napoles, our team worked with volunteers from other animal welfare organizations and the shelter's own staff to treat sick and wounded dogs as well as improve overall conditions and thus the likelihood of longer-term survival.
We were able to have a significant impact on the situation, instituting new policies and procedures that quickly reduced the suffering and mortality rate that the shelter had been experiencing prior to our vets' arrival.
Overall, we trained local staff, including vets, in best practices for care of animals in shelters and improved animal welfare standards for dogs who will arrive at this shelter and others now being built to accommodate those confiscated in the future. Some changes we made:
- We moved the most adoptable dogs to locations with more exposure to the public.
- We introduced feeding troughs so the weaker, smaller dogs would have broader access to food.
- We instituted vital disease control measures.
- We assisted with a mass spay/neuter campaign.
The amazing generosity from supporters like you makes our lifesaving work possible.
Each dog has a story
Every day, Dr. del Napoles and the other vets treated dog after dog selected from the pens full of animals in need of attention. Three in particular stood out.
Krapro (pronounced "ka-pow," meaning "hot basil") is a Thai Ridgeback and Spitz mix dog. She roams freely around the facility, as she refused to be kept in a cage. She is very sweet and smart, exhibiting the sort of exemplary social skills sometimes found in cherished pets.
During transport, dogs are often placed in either rusty metal cages or plastic chicken coops. They can barely stand or move around. Piled onto each other, some sustain serious injuries.
Lilly suffered this misfortune. She arrived at the shelter with severe damage to her hind legs, dragging them around due to paralysis of the pelvic region. After being treated for illness, she was fitted with a wheelchair that allows her to romp the hospital premises.
The friendliness of Kraprow and Lilly suggests that they were likely people's companions, snatched from their homes by pitiless dealers interested only in profit.
When Kate Hodal, Southeast Asia correspondent for The Guardian, visited the Nakhon Phanom Shelter to do an in-depth article on the dog meat trade, she noticed a scrawny brown dog she later named Honeyboo. In the course of the day, she started to ask more and more about the condition of the dog. Eventually, she decided to keep her as her companion in her rented apartment in Bangkok.
Honeyboo will have to stay at the shelter for a few more weeks to recover from poor nutrition and an infected wound, but then Kate will take her home and shower her with the love she deserves.
It was heartbreaking to see how much trust Krapro, Lilly and Honeyboo still had in humans after the way they were treated. We hope that the recommendations we made will allow more dogs like them a second chance at life after their initial rescue. At the same time, we're doing all we can to stop this brutal trade for good.