Thailand: The Illegal Dog Meat Trade

141 images Created 3 Jun 2013

Thousands of miles of porous borders, Thailand is continuously fighting illicit international trade. The border with Laos is over 1700km long and over half of that is the natural boundary of the River Mekong. Most know about the fight against the drug or endangered wildlife trade. But few know that it is fighting another battle against a different type of animal trade - that of domesticated dogs.

Currently NGO's, local officials and the Thai Mekong River navy are fighting a continuous battle against the illegal dog meat trade. Stolen and bought dogs are collected in remote areas of Northeast Thailand before being illegally shipped across the Mekong in the middle of the night, to Laos where they make their way, sometimes thousands at a time, up to the dog meat restaurants of Northern Vietnam.

In April 2013 alone, almost 2000 dogs were rescued having been caught before shipped to Laos. The culprits often flee the scene or are given lenient fines. How many dogs are smuggled across the border per year is unknown but believed to be tens of thousands.

The epicentre of Thailand's dog meat is a small town called Ta Rae. Home to a large population of Vietnamese Catholics who arrived here during the US war and never returned.

Buying a dog in Thailand can cost as little as US$8 yet are sold in Vietnam for upto US$100, making it an extremely profitable trade and one very hard to stop.

This story follows the trade route from its source, Ta Rae in Sakhon Nakhon Province, across the Mekong in to Laos and finally to Hanoi.
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