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Tag: smuggling

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.

Calvo raid, dog-killings justified, sheriff says

calvoMembers of a sheriff’s SWAT team who broke down the door of Mayor Cheye Calvo’s home — and shot and killed his two Labrador retrievers during a search for drugs – did nothing wrong.

That’s the astounding conclusion of an internal review by the Prince George’s County sheriff’s office.

“My deputies did their job to the fullest extent of their abilities,” Sheriff Michael Jackson said at a news conference.

County officials have since acknowledged that Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, were victims of a smuggling scheme that used a FedEx driver to ship boxes of drugs to unsuspecting homes. The drugs would later be picked up from doorsteps by members of the smuggling ring.

Law enforcement officials say the Calvo family knew nothing about the box, or its contents. County police, who were leading the drug investigation, have said they were unaware the house belonged to the mayor of Berwyn Heights.

“It’s outrageous,” Calvo told the Washington Post. “Not only is he not admitting any wrongdoing, but he’s saying this went down the way it was supposed to and he’s actually commending his police officers for what they did.”

One dog was shot four times by the front door. The second, Calvo says, was running away from officers when it was shot twice. Jackson said deputies thought the dog was running toward another deputy in the home. 

Calvo has scheduled a news conference for Monday to announce “further actions.”

“I’m sorry for the loss of their family pets,” Jackson said. “But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success.”

Framed: Dog detects marijuana in artworks

Eye-catching as the paintings might have been, it was their frames that caught the nose of a U.S. Customs drug-sniffing dog on the Mexico-Arizona border.

Federal officials say a man was taken into custody Friday after Customs and Border Protection officers found 90 pounds of marijuana hidden in the frames of six large paintings in his vehicle.

Officers selected the man’s vehicle for a routine inspection Friday at the border crossing in Douglas, Ariz., and their dog alerted to the paintings. An X-ray revealed the marijuana in the frames.

The man was being held pending the filing of charges, according to an Associated Press report.

The agency says the paintings were professionally done and the frames were nicely constructed.