What if an owner fails to properly care for a pet? We talked last week about behaviour towards an animal that amounts to extreme cruelty. Such acts would be punishable under the Criminal Code.
But to be punishable these kinds of behaviour require a certain amount of criminal responsibility on the part of the accused. The defendant has to be given the benefit of the doubt.
But what about treatment by an owner of an animal that isn't criminal, but is still unfair to the animal? For example, what if an owner leaves a dog locked up in a tiny cage for days on end without letting it out or cleaning the cage? Or what if the owner doesn't provide adequate food for the dog?
Stay tuned. Although such behaviour may not be regulated in Thailand now, there is a draft Prevention of Cruelty and Welfare of Animals Act that may change this. It is not yet law, but may be in the future.
Also, there is local legislation to protect animals. Section 29 of the Public Health Acts, BE 2535 (1992), a national law, provides that local governments have the power to legislate on how animals are treated. Clause 8 of the 2002 Bangkok Metropolitan Area's regulation regarding the control of pets and release of animals states that the owner of an animal must:
Create a place for the animal that is secure and appropriate for the type and size of the animal that enables the animal to have an adequate quality of life, with sufficient light and ventilation, water drainage and disposal of sewage in a hygienic manner.
Maintain the cleanliness of the place, collecting waste hygienically, so that smells do not become a nuisance.
Keep the animal on the owner's property and not let it outside without controlling the animal.
Prevent the animal from causing harm or being a nuisance to the public.
Although this regulation provides that violators will be subject to the punishments of the Public Health Acts, there is no real penalty for its violation. Still, public officials can order members of the public to comply, and this may be enough.
Must an owner have a pet vaccinated?
Yes. The Rabies Act, BE 2535 (1992) says dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies at three months of age and tagged for this.
After that it must be revaccinated every year, or as otherwise recommended by a veterinarian or rabies control officer. If the owner doesn't do this, he or she is subject to a small fine.
What about lost or homeless animals? Under Section 30 of the Public Health Act, local officials can keep lost or homeless animals for up to 30 days. If no one claims a lost animal, the animal can be sold.
If the owner claims the animal, he or she must reimburse the local government for expenses in feeding the animal. If the lost animal is found to have a contagious disease, it can be treated by the official or destroyed, as the official deems appropriate.
What if you find a stray animal? The best thing to do is call one of the charities that exist to help animals under these circumstances, such as the Foundation for Stray Dogs Bangkok or the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
James Finch of Chavalit Finch and Partners email@example.com
and Nilobon Tangprasit of Siam City Law Offices Limited firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers: Arnon Rungthanakarn and Sitra Horsinchai
For more information see www.chavalitfinchlaw.com
Questions? Contact us at the email addresses above.
About the author
Writer: James Finch and Nilobon Tangprasit