BANGKOK, Thailand–– Representatives of the Thai Department of Livestock Development, Vietnam Department of Public Health, and parallel agencies in Laos and Cambodia on February 28, 2014 agreed on plans to intercept traffic in dogs for slaughter along the Vietnamese/Laotian border and the Thai/Laotian border.
“Further,” said Humane Society International spokesperson Raul Arce-Contreras, “officials from Laos pledged to implement a directive to ensure enforcement of border control regulations for dogs and Cambodia intends to add dogs to its quarantine regulations.”
The February 28, 2014 agreements came two weeks after the Vietnam Department of Animal Health on February 13, 2014 ordered provincial authorities to enforce a five-year moratorium on transborder transport of dogs. The moratorium was adopted in principle by the governments of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in August 2013.
The moratorium partially implements the Association of Southeast Asian Nations strategy for eradicating canine rabies by 2020.
“The dog meat trade involves the only current mass movement of known or suspected rabies-infected dogs. Thus there is a strong argument to stop the cycle of infection by banning this trade entirely,” said Change For Animals Foundation program leader Lola Webber.
The Change For Animals Foundation, Soi Dog Foundation, Animals Asia Foundation, and Humane Society International advanced the moratorium after forming the Asia Canine Protection Alliance in May 2013.
Trade in dogs illegal but law unenforced
“While the unregulated trade of dogs into Vietnam has been illegal since 2009,” ACPA said in a joint statement, “limited resources have meant the law is often unenforced and has remained, until now, a low priority.”
ACPA representatives pledged to provide logistic support for the moratorium at an August 2013 summit in Hanoi attended by Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and Thai officials.
In Thailand, where few dogs are eaten but thousands per year are illegally exported for consumption, the Soi Dog Foundation has for more than two years taken custody of dogs rescued by border inspectors. The other ACPA members are involved chiefly in doing public education against eating dogs and cats.
Dog traffickers who have switched from exporting live dogs to exporting carcasses are believed to have dumped hundreds of bagged dog pelts and bones found on March 25, 2014 in a wooded area in Muang district, Sakon Nakhon province, Thailand, near the Laotian border.
“As the live dog trade reduces we are looking at the potential export of frozen meat,” Soi Dog Foundation president John Dalley told ANIMALS 24-7, ” which is harder to spot. Snatchers are killing dogs locally and transporting carcasses to tanneries and butchers in Thailand now,” because “A truck full of ice bins is far harder to spot than a truck with live dogs.
“Vietnamese buyers prefer dogs with skin on,” Dalley added, “so it is unlikely that much meat from the skin trade would end up there. More would be used for local consumption and consumption in Laos. The skin trade is a current focus,” Dalley said, “as is a longstanding issue.”