(These three articles were originally printed in the Summer edition of, "Mixed Reviews," the
newsletter for the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America.)
From the Dog Meat Trade to Adopted!
I first saw June posted on the Facebook page of a private rescue group and shelter called SoiDog Foundation. This was mid January 2012.
I found out about SoiDog Foundation when I looked into the groups who were helping all the animals in Bangkok, Thailand, during all the flooding that was occurring there in the Fall of 2011. I sent them a donation for all the incredible work they were doing to help save the thousands of dogs and cats in peril. In return, I got onto their newsletter and onto their Facebook page.
I was unaware that there was such a thing as a “dog meat trade” in SouthEast Asia and China. I knew that dog meat was a delicacy in those countries, but I was completely unaware how those dogs were obtained. I thought the dogs were bred specifically for the trade. Through SoiDog I discovered the massive black market that exists throughout the countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, that includes smuggling and horrible conditions before the dogs are inhumanely slaughtered.
In the middle of January, I saw photos posted on the SoiDog Facebook page that shook me to the core. There were photos of hundreds of dogs crammed into tiny metal cages and the dogs were distorted inside the cages as they attempted to survive. Many times, there were five to 10 dogs stuffed into a single cage. These cages were stacked about ten high and five wide onto numerous flatbed trucks. The trucks were lined up along the Mekong river on the NorthEast Thailand/Laos border, as the cages were to be loaded onto barges and shipped to Vietnam and other neighboring countries. In order to get the cages down the hill to the barges waiting below, the cages are pushed off the trucks and rolled down a tall, sandy hill to the river below. Many dogs received horrible injuries just from these roles down the hills.
June was on one of these trucks and was bound for a dinner plate in Vietnam or Laos or Cambodia, all the countries that border Thailand. Luckily, the Thai government was tipped off about this smuggling ring and the trucks were confiscated as the drivers fled into the nearby jungles. All the trucks and cages were transported back to a government shelter in nearby Nakhon Phanom, the name of the same province.
One of the volunteers of SoiDog Foundation, who goes by the Facebook name of “Bitter Brownie,” went up to this shelter, from her home in Bangkok, a drive of several hours, and photographed all the dogs who had come in. Part of her hope was that people who had their pets stolen would come to the shelter to reclaim their dogs. She was also hoping that people would be willing to adopt some of these dogs. Upon her return home, she posted all the photos of the dogs on the SoiDog Facebook, and this is when I saw June for the first time.
For me it was about 11 PM and I was just about to go to sleep when I decided to check in on the SoiDog Facebook page. This is when I saw the horror of all the dogs stuffed into the small cages piled onto the flatbed trucks and the fate that they almost went into. I was looking through all the photos, and so many of the dogs were just cowering in the corners of the shelter. Thai shelters don’t have separate individual runs. Instead they have massive, open complexes where all the dogs run loose, males and females combined, breeding and fighting. There is limited covered areas from the unending heat with long troughs of food bins. This particular shelter had sand in a large section of their runs.
Then I saw June’s photos. Here was a dog who had already been to hell and back and in one of the most scariest situations known to man, and in her photos she was up and happy in front of the camera. Her ears were up, her tongue was hanging out and she happy and alert. She was covered in sand, her coat was filthy and she had patches of missing hair, but she smiled big for the camera.
This is June at the Nakhon Phanom government shelter in Northeast Thailand, near
the Lao border and the Mekong River. Notice the large patches of hair missing from her chest.
I immediately posted a comment on the Facebook page about this dog in the photo and asked what the procedure was for adoption. I knew it was a super longshot, but I had to know about this dog. By the time the photos were taken and Bitter Brownie drove back home, posted them on Facebook and I saw them, one week had already gone by. Next morning, I got a response to contact Cindy at SoiDog for all adoptions. I believe there is a 12 hour difference between Thailand and California, so any responses can have a big delay.
I contacted Cindy, but I didn’t know how to indicate to her the dog I was interested in. I tried to tell her the line of the Facebook page, but she didn’t understand. At this point, I learned how to download a photo from Facebook. I downloaded all of June’s photos and emailed them to Cindy.
I didn’t expect to hear positive news, but I waited. I had heard from other comments on Facebook that so many dogs don’t survive in those shelters because distemper is so common. It had already been a week.
This was the next email I received, two days later:
“Hi again Jackie
I have found this dog. She is apparently friendly, healthy & female.
We started the adoption procedure.