Domestic animal welfare falls short in Thailand

dog fighting thailandAfter a recent experience I took to Facebook to vent my absolute frustration at the behaviour of some nationals in this country in relation to ‘domestic pet’ ownership.

My rant was this: “I am so fucking sick and tired of seeing a specific Thai person viciously abusing animals! Hitting a dog over the head repeatedly with a steel ruler while it’s pissing itself in fear, no matter what the size of the dog is NOT appropriate dog ownership. I warn you if I fucking see you do it again watch for my wrath!”

Now what could promote me to want to take to Facebook of all things to have such a rant. Well considering my attitude to elephant abuse in this country, it highlights firstly that there is an ongoing cultural issue, and secondly that I am someone who is passionate about animal welfare.

Animal ownership is not like buying a car, you buy a car and it is a possession, something you ‘own’ and it is an object. Now owning an animal, and in this case here I am talking about dogs, they are not a possession, which you can do with as you please.

Unfortunately it is somewhat of an attitude in Asia, that owning a dog is not like having an extended family, it is a status symbol and merely another possession to display power. Take for example the common pet purchased by those wanting to display power.

A pit-bull, which at the early age of this dog, gets taken to a doctor of sorts, and has it’s ears docked to make it look more nasty and aggressive. This is something that was done in years gone by with fighting dogs, which let’s face it is yet another story in itself due to the fact it still happens.

But answer me this, why does a domestic pet, need its ears docked? These owners are simply doing it to make themselves feel like they are gangster, that they have power, that they are tough, when in reality they are pathetic examples of humanity.

Now I have owned many dogs in my life, I have spent thousands on vet bills, training, and the likes, but one thing I have never done is abuse an animal. Back to my rant at the start of this story, behaviour like this in any western city would see you jailed and paraded in the press with the community showing you extreme disdain.

The Thai government passed an animal welfare bill on Wednesday, November 12, making it the country’s first law to prosecute anyone found guilty of animal cruelty, reports the Bangkok Post. Anyone found guilty of breaking the law could face up to two years in prison and/or a 40,000 baht fine, reports the Bangkok Post.

Typically my investigations show that this at face value seems to be a great step forward for this country, but unfortunately as many things go the ability to enforce and more so actually penalise to the full extent of the law is weak.

Take the example of the Chihuahua case in Bangkok recently. When a 22-year-old female threw her roommate’s Chihuahua from their fifth-floor apartment in Bangkok, pictures of the dog lying dead on a rooftop below ignited a firestorm across Thailand’s social media.

But in a cruel twist of fate for the poor dog, it’s memory was insulted with the guilty party being  prosecuted within days and sentenced to a mere two months in jail, commuted from four months after she confessed to the act, which is now considered a crime.

The law as much as a step forward as it is, is the shortest animal welfare law in the world, coming in at 9 pages, and leaving much open to interpretation. One example is the paragraph talking about what animals may be killed for consumption, does it state specially which animal are in the list? No, so let’s go kill our domestic pets and eat them if we are hungry, no fear of prosecution there.

This all sadens me greatly especially when you have foundations in this country working so hard to protect and rescue the soi dogs only to have dogs in home ownership suffering at the hands of home owners who have no right to be allowed to own animals.