Perhaps one of the things the K-9 Angels have become most renowned for is their work with dogs in Thailand. Their efforts to save and re-home dogs rescued from the illegal dog meat trade have captured the attention of celebrities and the Press, not to mention thousands of Facebook users, and their winged and haloed paw print logo is becoming synonymous with the fight against this nauseating trade.
My research for this feature has been a harrowing and depressing experience. The video footage and photographic evidence available on the internet is so repulsive and upsetting that I returned to the K-9 Angels website and Facebook page with a renewed passion and energy for the work they are doing. Although their fight is enormous, it is a fight we must help them win.
Theoretically, eating dog could be argued to be no worse than eating pig, as both are intelligent and sentient beings. The West is, therefore, in danger of hypocrisy and double standards for damning the dog meat industry. That is until you note that the dog meat trade is a brutal business that operates in the shadows, and its wheels are oiled with bribery and crime. It is not strictly legal, but it is not strictly policed either. The ‘cattle’ in this industry are not farmed. They are not transported in livestock lorries with sanctions and restrictions. They are not slaughtered in regulated abattoirs in a concise and swift manner. The seemingly endless supply of stray dogs in Thailand are captured on the streets, crammed into chicken cages and piled high on the back of trucks, many being crushed or suffocated in the process. They are then transported for hundreds of miles without rest or nourishment, and then they are killed brutally, inhumanely, and slowly.
I am not a fan of our own farming and slaughtering methods here in the UK. I am not for one second suggesting our own methods are without fault, suffering, or room for improvement. But even so, we do still have the right to oppose and condemn the dog meat industry and shake off any suggestion of displaying double standards because the dog meat industry in Asia is so completely void of regulation, and the suffering of the dogs so tremendous.
Thailand does not publicly endorse eating dog, it is considered uncouth and uncivilised by mainstream Thai society. But with each dog selling for around £20, and up to £60 for the fittest and fattest among the bunch, Thai society turns a blind eye and excuses itself by viewing this industry as a way of taking out the trash for a profit: The ‘trash’ being the dogs, and the ‘taking out’ being their dash across the border to Vietnam. Dog is openly and widely eaten in Vietnam, but not before each dog is strung up by the neck and tortured to toughen the meat and saturate it with adrenaline. The Vietnamese, along with the Chinese and Koreans have various beliefs surrounding the medicinal benefits of dog meat. Some consider it a warming meat good for consumption during cold weather. Others believe the more a dog is tortured before death the more potent the meats ability for enhancing libido is. The methods of torture range from electric shocks to the genitals, beating, stabbing and skinning alive. I am trying to retain emotionless objectivity here, but those methods are described with words preloaded with shocking imagery. If I were to write ‘a knife is inserted into the dog’s chest, deliberately avoiding the heart so that the bleed-out is slower and more painful’ that description is made no less graphic and unsettling than simply saying, stabbing. Stabbing is not a word that ever describes a nice act. Skinning alive has no softer alternative. Unpacking these words into their longer descriptions does not soften their meaning. The reason it all sounds shocking and nauseating, is because it is.
It becomes even more shocking and nauseating when you start talking numbers. This isn’t a small, sideline activity; this is a vast and industrial business. Around 1000 dogs are trafficked across the border each night, 30,000 each month, 360,000 each year. And that is just Thailand. Across Asia this is happening and it not only spells disaster for the dogs, it also greatly increases the spread of rabies. The unchecked smuggling of this crime-ridden industry has given rise to mafia-like gangs who intimidate and bribe their way across the border. This incredibly lucrative industry is lining the pockets of police, politicians, and border officials, not to mention the traffickers themselves. But there are plenty of Asians who oppose this trade, and there are plenty who are fighting for change.
K-9 Angels are part of that fight and they are not only rescuing dogs, but working on the Thai Government too. They support many organisations working at street level in Thailand. They provide food for the hundreds of dogs rescued each month, they transport many of them back to the UK for re-homing, and they raise awareness for this barbaric industry so that the eyes of the world can cast their gaze over Asia and this trade.
This trade must be stopped. There is no place for it in today’s world. Let’s not be intimidated by the sheer scale of the task, or by the enormity of the numbers, or by the length of the long road ahead. Let us instead be jolted into action by these figures that reveal just how immense this problem is. Let us become united and determined to force change, together. If you feel too tiny to make a difference then be assured you are not alone: The K-9 Angels are striding into the fight and are already making a difference. All you have to do is join them.