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Important Steps Forward
In Ending The Dog Meat Trade…
Dear Friends and Supporters of Soi Dog,
I am delighted to be able to share with you some very positive news regarding progress in ending the illegal smuggling of dogs from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to Vietnam for use in the dog meat industry there.
Representatives from the Asian Canine Protection Alliance compromising Soi Dog Foundation, Animals Asia, The Humane Society International and Change For Animals Foundation met with key government officials from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in Hanoi 12 days ago to discuss how to end the trade for the benefit of both the animals who are victims of the trade and for the welfare of the citizens of these countries.
After 2 days of sometimes difficult negotiation and discussion, representatives from the Governments of all 4 countries agreed to a 5 point programme to end the trade and eliminate rabies, including a 5 year ban on the import of dogs from other countries into Vietnam. The Asia Canine Protection Alliance focused on the illegality of the trade and the threat it poses to rabies elimination in the region.
Why the focus on rabies? The Vietnamese representatives in particular are extremely defensive regarding dog meat being part of their culture. (In reality this is not the case as was introduced during the Vietnam war by military personnel trained in China). To attack the cruelty involved in the trade simply does not work and could well lead to them saying they will regulate the industry which would be a disaster. However Vietnam has committed to eliminate rabies in the country by 2020 and currently the incidence of the disease is on the rise. As I told them quite clearly, rabies does not respect culture, and whilst ever they allow the importation of dogs into the country, none of which have official documentation then rabies will never be eliminated.
This does not mean however that the trade will end, nor will domestic trades be immediately affected. Through our undercover investigators we know the smugglers are already looking at alternative measures including slaughtering dogs in Thailand and shipping carcasses as opposed to live animals. It also requires each countries government to enforce the ban and for the ACPA alliance to provide guidance and aid in the elimination of rabies as well as dog population management planning in each of the countries. The government of Thailand sent representatives from the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of the Interior and the Department of Livestock Development and made it clear that Thailand is strongly against the trade and doing all it can to eliminate the trade.
On September 4th and 5th representatives from Thailand’s Department of Livestock in Bangkok will visit Soi Dog to study our sterilization and vaccination program model with a view to implementing a nationwide sterilization and vaccination program. Nationwide sterilization will result in a reduced stray population and a dramatic reduction in the suffering and persecution these animals endure. Vaccinating dogs has been recognized internationally as the most cost effective method of rabies elimination. It is the overabundance of dogs in Thailand that has led to the trade and tolerance of it.
It has been scientifically proven that sterilization is the only effective and humane method of addressing the fundamental cause of the suffering of street animals, this being over population. Through wide scale sterilization, animal suffering is dramatically reduced and is an important step in ending the illegal dog meat trade.
What will we do? As mentioned above the Thai Government is very supportive. Pornpitak Panlar, chief of the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health in Thailand said: “We cannot change culture or habit, but we should stop the smuggling of dogs. This meeting was important to urge government agencies to see the problems caused by the dog meat trade and discuss a platform to stop the spread of rabies.”
Boonseub Chemchoig, Chief Inspector General, Ministry of Interior, Thailand said: “We never allow the transfer of dogs from Thailand to Vietnam for the purpose of consumption. We are still seeking solutions as the border between Thailand and other countries is long and difficult to manage, considering the illegal trade we are trying.”
Lola Webber of Change for Animals Foundation and I are currently drafting a risk assessment requested by the Vietnamese Government to provide clear evidence of the link between the dog meat trade and rabies.
On the 8th of September myself and Leonard Coyne will meet with our chief Thai agent who organizes undercover agents in the north east of Thailand and on the Laos border to monitor and inform the authorities on the movement of dogs. I shall be requesting him to recruit a full time agent to monitor the border crossing between Laos and Vietnam where all Thai dogs cross in order to ensure the ban is being enforced.
Our main objective is to stop the trade; however the dogs rescued from the trade must continue to be fed and cared for. More arrests of smugglers through increased enforcement will mean more dogs to feed! This is expensive, with over 4,000 dogs currently being cared the cost is over one and a half million Thai Baht ($46,000 US) every month and will continue to rise.
The Magic 1000 Club was formed so that you can help care for the dogs. My heartfelt thanks to those of you who have joined the Magic 1000 Club. For those of you who want to end the trade and help the rescued dogs please join us as one of the Magic 1000 today!
As I have said many times whilst spending huge sums of money on supporting the dogs rescued from the trade does continue, Soi Dog’s main objective has, and always will be to stop the trade and last week was a major step in this direction.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and thank you for your support in bringing the dog meat trade to an end.
"I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." - Mahatma Gandhi
P.S. Please take a moment to gain a better understanding of the trade by watching this trailer of the soon to be released documentary "Shadow Trade"...
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Images © Luke Duggleby 2013. All Rights Reserved (www.lukeduggleby.com)
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