Opposition to dog meat traffic rises in China, Thailand, and Vietnam

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  October 2011:

– Public outrage on September 21, 2011 brought the abrupt cancellation of the eighth annual dog meat festival in Zhejiang,  China,  which had been scheduled for October 18.

From five to ten thousand dogs were to have been caged in the streets of Jinhua City,  Zhejiang province,  to be killed and butchered to visitors’ order.  “Dogs’ yelping fills the air throughout the the festival,”  reported The Shanghaiist.
“Folklore holds that dogs in Qianxi,”  the name of a Jinhua township not to be confused with the city of the same name in Guizhou province,  “were secretly killed by the troops of Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644),  before they seized the town,  as the barks would expose their every maneuver,”  explained Xinhua News Agency editor Liu,  who uses only one name.  “After the conquest,  dog meat was served at the victory feast,”  Liu continued.

“Thereafter,  local people began to eat dog meat as a special snack during a temple fair held at a shrine for the emperor and his empress.  The ancient fair was replaced by a modern commodity fair in the 1980s,”  Liu said,  “but dog-eating was kept as a tradition. However,  vendors began to butcher dogs in public a few years ago to show their dog meat is fresh and safe,”  Liu narrated.

In response,  Liu wrote,  “Hundreds of thousands of netizens posted criticisms of the carnival on forums and social networking sites,  slamming the tradition and calling on the local government to intervene.  Ninety one percent of over 12,000 users said ‘No’ to the carnival in a vote on Weibo.com,  a popular microblogging site.”

“It was part of our cultural history,  but not all culture should be inherited,”    Small Animal Protection Society Rescue of Hangzhou director Chen Manhong told Barbara Demick of the McClatchy-Tribune news service.
In Thailand,  meanwhile,  calls for stiffer anti-dog trafficking legislation rose in response to the August 11,  2011 seizure of more than 1,000 dogs from trucks on route to Vietnam via Laos.  At least 300 dogs died from neglect and abuse inflicted before the convoy was intercepted.  Accused trafficker Noppadon Chaiwangrot, 40,  allegedly released another 600 dogs into a forest as police closed in on him.

The Nakhon Phanom Animal Quarantine Station housed 967 surviving dogs in facilities built for 500.

“The Soi Dog Foundation and Worldwide Veterinary Service have arranged for an experienced volunteer veterinary staff to help the surviving dogs,”  Soi Dog president John Dalley told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “Soi Dog in conjunction with Khun Bee and Khun Kharn of Bangkok are taking the most vulnerable dogs to our shelter in Phuket,  where they receive treatment.  Seventeen dogs have been brought to Soi Dog,” Dalley said.

“As of October 7,”  Dalley added,  “726 dogs remain alive in Nakhon Phanom,  where authorities are building additional enclosures to  reduce the overcrowding. With winter approaching,  overcrowding presents serious health issues.  It is impossible to remove all the dogs,” Dalley said,  “due to lack of accommodations for them elsewhere.”

Reported The Bangkok Post on September 26,  2011,  “Five members of a gang believed to supply dogs to restaurants across Asia have been sentenced to eight months in jail for attempting to smuggle more than 1,200 dogs across the Mekong river to Laos in August.  The jail term was reduced to four months because they pleaded guilty.”

The Bangkok Nation added that the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Court also fined the five convicted traffickers,  and “seized four trucks and 200 cages used in the crime.”

The biggest previous interception of dogs en route from Thailand to Vietnam via Laos came in November 2003,  when 802 caged dogs were seized from four fishing boats anchored in the Mekong River.  Both King Bhumibol Aduladej,  in 2002,  and Queen Sirikit, in 2003,  had asked in birthday speeches for Thailand to take better care of street dogs and crack down on animal trafficking.

Offensive to the majority of Thais,  dog trafficking and consumption within Thailand have historically been practiced mainly by ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam,  who settled in northeastern Thailand after the Vietnam War.  Alleged dog thefts for consumption and sale abroad have at times sparked ethnic riots.

But some Thai officials,  nominally opposed to dog trafficking,  have tended to look away while traffickers have captured as many as 30,000 dogs per year from the streets of Bangkok, and have performed similar “animal control” in other cities.

There are hints from Vietnam that the non-dog-eating majority of the public there may be losing their tolerance of dog-eaters. Medical doctors at the National Institute of Infectious & Tropical Diseases and the National Institute of Hygiene & Epidemiology in Hanoi reported in 2009 that dog-eating was associated with two recent human rabies deaths,  but thefts of pets by dog meat suppliers have provoked more furor.

“Fights have erupted across Vietnam between dognappers and fed-up villagers,  who have increasingly turned to vigilante justice, because there is little that police can do,”  reported Mike Ives of Associated Press from Hanoi on October 3,  2011.   Ives reported one incident in which two men on a motorbike snatched a dog belonging to a man named Nguyen Van Cuong.  The thieves threw a brick at Cuong and a neighbor who joined the pursuit.  The brick killed a bystander.

“In Nghe An province,”  Ives added,  in June 2011 “a dognapper was chased and clubbed to death by a mob who then torched his body,  leaving the charred remains as a warning on the roadside. Seven villagers were hurt in other incidents there when they pursued thieves who retaliated with knives,  bottles and slings.”

ANIMAL PEOPLE has found record of only one other lynching linked to alleged dog theft,  anywhere,  ever.  The pretext for that lynching was murder.  On January 1,  1926,  newly sworn in sheriff’s deputy William Henry Nicks O’Berry,  36,  of Elfers,  Florida,  was reported to have been fatally shot while trying to arrest dog theft suspect Charles Davis in Richloam,  near Ocala.  Davis,  whose motive for the alleged dog theft was not recorded,  was wounded in an ensuing shootout with police.  The Dade City Banner on April 30, 1926, reported that Davis,  who was of African ancestry,  was believed to have been lynched while being transferred from the Ocala jail to Brooksville for trial.

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