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Documentary looks at Thai dog smugglers

As many as 200,000 dogs a year are smuggled out of Thailand, across the Mekong River and into Vietnam. The cruel journeys — in which the dogs are crammed in cages — last for days. The destination is even, by Western standards, meaner yet.

While smuggling the dogs is illegal, killing, cooking and eating them is not, and remains a tradition among some  in China, Vietnam and South Korea.

This CNN report, based on a new documentary, The Shadow Trade, looks at both the supply and the demand — and the cruel road between the two.

Dogs commonly become dehydrated, stressed, and die during the trips, in which they are packed 20 or more to a cage, and 1,000 or more to a truck.

“Obviously when you’ve got dogs stacked on top of each other they start biting each other because they are so uncomfortable, any kind of movement then the dog next to the one that’s being crushed is going to bite back,” said Tuan Bendixsen, director of Animals Asia Foundation Vietnam, a Hanoi-based animal welfare group.

When they arrive in Vietnam, the dogs are bludgeoned to death and have their throats slit before they are butchered for their meat.

Some animal rights activisists say the stress all that inflicts, even before death, is intentional — that some believe the stress and fear release hormones that improves the taste of the meat.

While some of the dogs rounded up in Thailand are strays — known as soi dogs — John Dalley of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation estimates 98% of them are domesticated and says some are wearing collars and have been trained and respond to commands.

“You can see all types of pedigree animals in these captured Thai shipments — golden retrievers, long-haired terriers, you name it,” says Dalley. “Some are bought. Others are snatched from streets, temples, and even people’s gardens.”

A dog in Thailand can sell for $10, according to animal rights activists, but they’re worth $60 once they are served up in restaurants in Vietnam, where they estimate a million dogs a year are eaten.

The trade is illegal in Thailand, but, with no animal cruelty laws, traders are commonly charged with illegally transporting animals.  The smugglers usually receive sentences of just a few months in jail. And the dogs taken from them often wind up being captured again by traders, and shipped again to Vietnam to become meat.


Comment from Mikki
Time June 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

This just breaks my heart. I honestly believe that there is a very special place in HELL for anyone that mistreats, uses, abuses, hurts and trys to show power and dominance over any of God’s defensless creatures. This is just disgusting. I will never in my life visit an asian country.

Comment from rflmn
Time June 4, 2013 at 12:32 am

why are americans knowingly buying products from dog eating basterds. electronics,KIA cars,HUNDAE cars.boycot these products.no American who loves dogs and buys their cars from south korea is approving the practice of the slaughter of dogs for meat. at the end of Vietnam war America abandoned al us guard dogs to the filthy vc rat bastards we were fighting. AMERICA yrass.

Comment from ShitBrick
Time June 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

You eat chicken don’t ya?? Let em eat whatever they want… You don’t wanna eat dog don’t eat it

Comment from J.B.
Time June 5, 2013 at 9:01 am

I always thought of Thailand as a peace loving and caring nation so I was quite shocked when hearing on CNN a report about the dog trade from Thailand to Vietnam…It disgusts me beyond words and it’s sooo uncivilized…and degrades the nation…my opinion is that people that are cruel to animals are a threat to people….watch your back!

Comment from Frank
Time June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am

I’m not sure why it’s ok to treat chickens, cows, and pigs horribly, then butcher them, cut them to pieces, cook them, and then eat them, but because a different culture does this with dogs they are horrible. Until you stop eating animal products it’s rather hypocritical to condem someone for doing what we do, but with different animals.

No animal deserves to be killed because they taste good when you butcher them and eat them.

I don’t understand how someone can love a dog, but be ok with killing a pig or a cow.

Comment from Francis
Time June 10, 2013 at 1:32 am

I’m a Vietnamese myself, and I feel really ashamed for this. Dogs are humanity’s best friend, yet they are being abused in my countries. I remember when I was a little kid, I felt really upset whenever I heard a dog cried for help because they were being killed for food. One of my god was kidnapped and turned into food for, and miss my baby so much. I love my doggies so much, and I don’t know how can people just kill a dog they have in the garden for food.