A man who butchered puppies and prepared them for human consumption has been jailed in Thailand, in what activists described as a big win for animal welfare in the country. The individual, from the Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, has been prosecuted and sentenced to three months in prison after a joint investigation by the animal welfare organization Soi Dog Foundation and the Royal Thai Police.
The killing of dogs and cats and the consumption of their meat is illegal in Thailand under the Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act, BE 2557 (2014) – legislation which Soi Dog Foundation worked closely alongside Thailand’s government to introduce.
The foundation has hailed the sentencing as a positive step forward for animal welfare in Thailand, and said it demonstrated its “unwavering commitment to fighting animal cruelty in all its forms”
Concern was initially raised by Soi Dog Foundation mobile clinic staff stationed in the province after finding a puppy with a deep laceration to its neck.
People living in the area led staff to the man, telling them they believed he was routinely butchering and eating puppies, but explaining that they were fearful of taking action because he was known to be violent and often under the influence of drugs.
The wounded animal and its five littermates were transported to the Soi Dog Foundation shelter in the province of Phuket for safety and treatment.
Meanwhile, the foundation’s dedicated community liaison team filed a report with the local Chaloem Phrakiat Police.
Sakdapol Thongchan, Soi Dog Foundation’s Community Relations Manager, and Police Captain Boonchuea Sangsawat, Deputy Inspector of Investigation, visited the man’s home, where they discovered bones, corpses and cooked meat. He was immediately arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.
Experts at Chulalongkorn University’s Halal Science Center in Bangkok concluded that the cooked meat was canine, while Soi Dog Foundation veterinarians confirmed the bones to be those of a puppy.
The man was then charged under Sections 20 and 31 of the Act which stipulate that “no person shall perform any act which is deemed an act of cruelty to animals without justification” and “any person who contravenes section 20 shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding forty-thousand baht or to both”.
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The Pak Phanang Provincial Court sentenced the man to six months imprisonment. The sentence was reduced to three months after he pleaded guilty.
Soi Dog Foundation co-founder John Dalley MBE hailed the successful sentencing as a win for animal welfare efforts in Thailand.
He said: “Soi Dog and other organizations worked hard to have this law passed in 2014. But even though it is now the law, many people still do not know about it.
“We must continue to fight for stray animals in need. Such cruelty has absolutely no place in society.”
The foundation also thanks the authorities for their swift and efficient handling of the case.
Mr Thongchan said: “We appreciate the assistance provided by law enforcement and the various judicial systems.
“Ignorance of the law is not a defense, and we want to motivate everyone to take action to stop animal cruelty.”
Soi Dog Foundation has been fighting animal cruelty since its founding almost 20 years ago, with a particular focus on the Asian dog and cat meat trade over the past decade.
With the help of a number of government and private organizations, the illegal trade in Thailand was effectively stamped out in 2014, the same year the foundation was influential in helping to bring about the country’s first animal welfare law.
The foundation sits on a committee which meets regularly to revise and improve this law in Thailand, and continues to fight for an end to the dog and cat meat trade in other Asian countries.