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A Phuket Expat got more than he bargained for when he took the decision to abandon his pet dog ‘Jonney Cash’ in a heavy storm on the road outside Soi Dog Foundation’s shelter. After dumping the dog on September 19 and driving off, little did he know that his actions were clearly caught on CCTV. Nor that a member of Soi Dog staff saw what had happened and rescued the dog that was running down the road vainly trying to catch up his with beloved owner, and in danger of being hit by traffic.
As well as being a cruel and despicable act, abandoning a dog is also illegal in Thailand. Thachatchai police later tracked down ‘Mr.R’, an Irishman who has lived in Phuket for a number of years and filed charges against him under The Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act.
Pleading guilty, he was fined 2,000 THB by the court and his information and fingerprints recorded into the criminal record system.
Deputy Superintendent Watcharin Jirattikarnpiwat of Thachatchai Police Station confirmed that ‘Mr.R’ had paid a fine and received a criminal record already. He added that “One of the main stray dog problems in Thailand is because lack of pet owner responsibilities and we hope that this story serves as an obvious example of legal action that will be taken against the abandoning of pet dogs and cats”. Mr.Watcharin also urged the public to report any cases of pet animal abandonment to the police. “Animal Cruelty Acts might be a new thing for Thais compared with other laws. I am glad that the story will be published, this is not just the duty of the police or of Soi Dog, everyone can step in. Because without social change, law change is useless”.
Asked to comment on the case, John Dalley MBE, President of Soi Dog Foundation International, remarked that although ‘Mr.R’ had written to him 2 weeks after the event, describing it as a moment of madness, it was noticeable that he never once asked if the dog had been found or if it was safe in the care of Soi Dog. “The CCTV footage clearly shows it as a premeditated act. Had it been a moment of madness then surely he would want to know that the dog was unharmed”.
Regarding the penalty, Mr. Dalley remarked that although he felt the fine imposed was derisory when one considers it costs on average 2,700 THB per month to keep a dog at the shelter, it was very pleasing that the authorities had acted.
“If people have a genuine reason that they are unable to keep a pet, then we will always try to help. Dumping a dog in a strange environment in heavy rain, driving away, and putting its life in danger are not the actions of a concerned owner”, Mr. Dalley added.