The Harrowing Experience of a Thai Dog Meat Trade Survivor

The Harrowing Experience of a Thai Dog Meat Trade Survivor

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The Thailand Dog meat trade…. 

Is almost eradicated in Thailand now thanks to the heroic efforts of the Soi Dog Foundation (SDF) and many other grass root activists. However prior to 2013 this evil practice flourished for many decades with the government turning a blind eye. It has been said that certain government officials received kickbacks from the dog meat smugglers and that the industry generated over $6 million dollars a year.  The dog meat smugglers are evil men who will resort to violence if needed to snatch a dog and they are indiscriminate in to which dogs they take.  In fact, 25% of DMT rescues have collars on at time of rescue indicating they were once someone’s loved pet. The majority of Thai people would never think of causing harm to a sentient being due to their Buddhist roots and most in Thailand weren’t even aware of this barbaric practice.  The SDF was very smart in how they attacked their campaign against the trade – they took a two-pronged approach –  they pressured the government to implement and enforce laws against the trade and they started a public awareness campaign using billboards to educate the Thai people.  This led to a huge grass roots movement which had immense success in pressuring the government and roadblocking transport vehicles.

Almost all of Elfe’s Dogs were rescued from the illegal dog meat trade in Thailand from 2011-2013.  One may wonder why many of Elfe’s dogs don’t look like typical street dogs.  Well, it’s because out of the thousands of dogs rescued from the DMT only a small percentage went on to survive the Thai government shelters.  The government shelters were ill-equipped to care for such a huge influx of dogs when the government started to crack down on the dog meat trade and intercept dog meat trucks.  There were literally thousands of dogs in one big open area and the majority did not survive due to disease, starvation, and dog fights.  The lucky ones received sponsorship and were pulled, vetted, and many were sent to Elfe on the island of Koh Samui.  This was all made possible by volunteers who went to the government shelters and took pictures which then were plastered on the internet. People from all over the world sponsored dogs in order to save their lives. Many of the “cute” dogs who resembled popular breed types were saved.  One could say many of these dogs were saved by their good looks.

Here is the story of an anonymous Thai street dog victim…. 

I grew up on the streets of Thailand, in a “survival of the fittest” climate, where I had to fend for food and avoid many dangers.

One day, some men approached me while I slept and tossed a wire lasso over my head. As I awoke, struggling and snapping with fear, they used a long stick with crude pincers attached to the end of it to lift me and then dump me into a truck.
Lots of other terrified dogs were in the truck alongside me. We were driven into a dense jungle-like area, away from main roads and towns. Tropical trees provided cover as the same horrid men used the wire lassos and pincers on us again, this time to grab us and drop us into a pit. We fell through the air for a terrifying moment, then landed on a hard concrete floor. Some of us were injured in the fall; all of us were terrorized.
The pit cover was replaced once we were all inside it, and hardly any light penetrated from above. There was no food or water in our hot, dark, claustrophobic jail, and nowhere to escape. But we didn’t fight one another or really do much of anything other than freeze with fear – we were all too traumatized.
Over the next couple of days, the pit cover opened a few times, light blinded us from above, and more dogs were dropped in amongst us until the men apparently decided that they had enough of us to satisfy their greed and justify an legal smuggling run across the border.
One day, there was the sound of the pit cover opening again, and as we all blinked, blinded once again by the light, expecting more dogs to drop down amongst us, the long pincer stick returned instead. We were grabbed around the neck once more, and then shoved into a new form of torture – a compact “crush cage” – with many other dogs.
The cages were set on end and we were dropped in and shoved and packed like sardines until limbs and tails emerged from between the wire bars and we were nearly suffocating from such close quarters. None of us could move more than literally one inch in any direction.
Then our crush cages were piled high onto the flatbed of a truck, with more and more cages on top of, and around the sides of, ours. Many of us lost limbs and tails in crushing injuries as the staggering weight stacked higher and higher.
In order to conceal us – live contraband intended for smuggling cross-country and over two border crossings – a heavy, non-breathable tarp was thrown over the entire truck’s cargo, cutting off even our access to fresh air – the last resource we had.
We sat on that truck for a long time. I was so dazed and disoriented that it could have been hours or it could have been days – I really can’t say for sure. I guess they were waiting for an all clear signal from they boss. They drank water noisily from bottles as they laughed and joked near our truck and we watched them with desperate eyes because of course, during this time, we had been under terrible stress and had not had food or water for a dangerously-long period of time.
I was certain that the end must be near – I was sure I would suffocate from the heat, from this extreme overcrowding, and from the long stretch of time that slowly ticked by. Indeed, many dogs around me perished.
It was evening, as dusk fell, when our truck finally rumbled to life and attempted to make a run northward for the border. The smugglers were headed for Vietnam, by way of Laos. But near the river’s edge which separated Thailand from Laos, where we would have once again been thrown about like so much live garbage – this time into overcrowded smuggling boats – new sounds reached deep into our desolate quarters, inspiring fresh apprehension to those of us still alive and still conscious.
Voices – angry and commanding – fell upon our ears.  We were frightened, but not for long. Much to my surprise, we were rescued that day, and I owe my life to the caring individuals and government officials who came together to save us all from yet more suffering in an extended transport, and eventual slow torture and death, to be someone’s adrenaline-infused meal (which some cultures consider good for one’s health and virility).
I am forever grateful to our saviors. A few of the Royal Police even cracked open water bottles and tried their best to proffer sips to those of us in cages with access to bars facing them. But there was too little water and too many dogs. And anyway, it would be a long while before we could even be released from our terrifying confines.
We were slowly transported another long distance, still in those horrible crush cages, still packed like sardines – it seemed to take forever. I was in so much pain and filled with claustrophobic terror – what next??
We ended up at a government-run shelter, one of several large livestock centers in the Thai nation. There, our cages were unloaded with the use of cranes, hoists and manpower. One by one, our cage wires were cut and we literally had to be unpacked and unfolded from the positions we had been held prisoner in for so many long and torturous days.
Next, those of us who could stand and move still were herded into a large dog kennel. To be able to move freely again, and to have access to large vats of water and a long trough with food, was nothing short of miraculous, after all I had endured.

But although my life was marginally-improved now that I’d been “saved”, we all still suffered – this time from widespread disease and massive overcrowding. Food was scarce; we lived practically one on top of the other; dog fights were frequent and often vicious; and there was little to no medical attention available. Once again, I was surrounded by terrible suffering and watched as many fellow dogs died around me at a rapid rate.

A long, frightening, sad period of my life passed here. I wondered if my whole life would play out behind these bars, and I shivered with fear to imagine such a fate. But somehow, through some magical stroke of fate, Lady Luck intervened on my behalf. Someone, somewhere, saw my photo, looked into my eyes, and knew that they could not leave me behind.
I was brought to Bangkok for veterinary care and then flown to the beautiful island of Koh Samui, to Elfesworld, a dog sanctuary.
When I arrived here, for the first time in my strife-filled life, I saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Here at Elfesworld, I am shown kindness and affection; I have learned confidence and am polishing my manners; and I have discovered the meaning of safety and love. It has been a glimpse into a life I never even knew existed: lives where dogs might never know fear again.

It’s a life I so desperately want now…but one which will be brand-new to me and often confusing. I have so much to learn about life as a pet dog in a real household.  I know I can do it – I’ve made it this far already! – but please, won’t you gently show me the ropes, and have patience with me when I make missteps sometimes, as I surely will?
In return, I will repay you a thousandfold.
I just need a fair chance at a life I could only dream of when I was that terrified dog, crammed into a crate, baking alive in the tropical heat, who had given up all hope.