Animal welfare groups have stepped up a campaign to stamp out the
illegal dog meat trade in South East Asia after harrowing pictures
emerged of dogs being smuggled across the Thai border to Vietnam.
The images, filmed undercover by an Australian reporter, show the
dogs and puppies crammed up against the bars of giant cages with so
little room to move that many of them suffocate during the journey.
It's estimated as many as 200,000 live dogs are trafficked each
year from northeast Thailand across the Mekong River to Laos and
then on to Vietnam where dog meat is a prized delicacy.
Health officials warn the illicit industry is contributing to the
spread of diseases in the region. The World Health Organization has
linked dog meat to outbreaks of trichinellosis, cholera, and rabies
in Vietnam and Indonesia.
"This problem is rampant across South East Asia," says Betsy
Miranda, Asia coordinator for the Global Alliance for Rabies
Control. "The risk that the animals are in poor health and not
vaccinated is very high. If they move across borders they risk
carrying the disease across large distances."
In May, several high-profile animal welfare groups came together
to form the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA), in an attempt to
better monitor the illicit dog meat industry and lobby governments
to crack down on the trade. The ACPA said they will work with
authorities in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam to improve enforcement of
regulations already in place and help raise awareness of the
potential health risks.
Dog has been eaten for centuries across Asia; however, the meat,
once eaten by poor families in rural areas, has become increasingly
popular among diners in big cities including Hanoi and Saigon where
a dog-meat dish can fetch as much as $60 dollars a portion.
As many as 5 million dogs are slaughtered for human consumption a
year in Vietnam - almost double the number of stray cats and dogs
euthanized each year in US animal shelters.
Multi-million dollar industry
Supplying dogs to feed growing demand in Vietnam has become a
multimillion-dollar illegal trafficking industry.
In Thailand, where selling dogs for human consumption is illegal,
canine meat smuggling syndicates round up stray and pet animals from
the streets, trafficking as many as 1,000 dogs across the border in
Activists accuse authorities in Thailand of doing little to stop
the trade, which is often passed off as an unofficial way to deal
with the growing number of stray dogs in the country. …