Dog meat traders in north-eastern Thailand are demanding that an export ban to Vietnam be lifted due to its severe impact on the local economy, media reports said Saturday.
More than 500 of the traders rallied at the provincial hall in Nakhon Phanom, 644 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, to protest the ban that has caused the trade in the area to grind to a halt.
The ban was imposed after local police on August 11 stopped a convoy of five trucks carrying 1,800 caged dogs en route to Vietnam, where they were intended for sale to consumers.
Sawaeng Dechaloet was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying the selling of dog meat is an honest profession and traders never steal dogs for export.
He said the protest would continue until traders are allowed to resume the business that has been their only source of income for more than 30 years.
Nearly 1,000 of the dogs saved from the latest raid are being sheltered at the Nakhon Phanom Animal Quarantine facility.
About 300 of the dogs died due to conditions they endured while caged in trucks, officials said.
The police crackdown came after a tip from an animal protection group and resulted in the arrest of three Thais and one Vietnamese.
Following wide press coverage of the crackdown, officials received about 19 million baht (630,000 dollars) in public donations to care for the dogs, some of which were taken home by their owners who had reported the animals missing.
Nakhon Pathom province is located across the Mekong River from Khammouan, Laos, which is a short drive to the Vietnam border.
Dogs destined for Vietnam can fetch between 500 to 1,000 baht (17 to 34 dollars) each in Thailand, where people are generally averse to eating dog meat.
In Southeast Asia, most countries excluding Vietnam rarely consume dog meat either because of Islamic or Buddhist values or animal rights as in the Philippines. Manchus have a prohibition against the eating of dog meat, which is sometimes consumed by the Manchus’ neighboring Northeastern Asian peoples. The Manchus also avoid the wearing of hats made of dog’s fur.
Dog meat is used as food in parts of China (e.g. Guangxi) and Korea, as a normal, staple item