Photos of dozens of starving dogs kept at a dog farm in Chiang Mai and owned by a Western man who reportedly is being treated in hospital for serious illnesses have sparked an online campaign to save the animals amid claims that local authorities had ignored their plight.
The photos were posted on the Facebook page of Watchdog Thailand along with a call for public support to remove the dogs from the farm and an accusation that local authorities had ignored the organisation’s bid to save the dogs from starvation.
“I want my government to hear, listen and learn how the outside world is thinking about animal welfare issues. From this situation now, I hope that you can see clearly, the animal cruelty images,” said the Facebook post.
“When animal rights and law do not exist in any given place, our voice is so important and requisite. Just one voice is powerful. If we voice together, it will be very loud.”
The group was responding after the province yesterday rejected the group’s bid to move the dogs, as they did not appear in such a bad state.
Chiang Mai governor Charoenrit Sanguansat denied local authorities had ignored Watchdog Thailand’s call for help with what it described as a planned “rescue” of the “abandoned” dog farm. They visited the site but decided not to take action.
Mr Sanguansat said Watchdog Thailand alerted the Saraphi district livestock office on Friday to the situation.
The group said there were more than 45 dogs and puppies at a farm run by a man identified as Jack Sterling who was in the news last year after being accused of animal cruelty and neglect.
Mr Sanguansat was told the dogs were deprived of food and water since Mr Sterling was admitted to Nakornping Hospital.
However, when local livestock authorities, the district office chief, police and local administrative officials visited the farm, located in Moo 8 village of tambon Khua Mung, they found that the areas in which the animals were kept were clean.
The animals also had food and water, and none of them looked sick when observed from the outside, he said.
When Watchdog Thailand insisted on its plan to transfer the animals to a foundation called Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng district, local authorities asked Watchdog Thailand to submit to them a written request for the relocation of the dogs.
On Saturday, Saraphi district livestock authorities along with other local authorities and the landowner who rents out the area to Mr Sterling discussed the legality of Watchdog Thailand’s plan.
However, because the planned transfer of the dogs was to be conducted without their owner’s permission and knowledge, and that the animals were apparently in reasonable shape, the authorities couldn’t allow Watchdog Thailand to proceed with its plan, he said.