Thailand's laws on the treatment of animals are extremely outdated. So are the attitudes of people in some regions. This is why it is easy to back calls for a new law to stop the butchering of dogs. Authorities have let the matter of the dog meat trade fester for far too long. It is now time for them to act, especially as they face pressure from animal rights groups and the international spotlight is on the country.
The pressure is increasing, at home and from abroad. Over the weekend, news outlets reported that several famous British entertainment stars are calling for action. They include Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais and actors from the British television series Downton Abbey.
The authorities, especially the top men in the junta, should not underestimate the damage the negative publicity from the entertainment stars could cause.
The stars are backing a video produced by the Soi Dog Foundation. To some, this Phuket-based group is an organisation trying to spread a message of kindness to animals — especially stray dogs and cats. Others choose to shun the foundation because they see it as an animal rights group.
Last week, John Dalley, founder of the Soi Dog Foundation, approached and aggressively challenged a street seller of dog meat in Hanoi after the dealer had grabbed two dogs from the stock in his shophouse, and slaughtered and butchered them in front of Mr Dalley.
And in Thailand, authorities now have to deal with Mr Dalley's group and its supporters. The authorities have done nothing about an unsafe, unclean, illegal activity.
You don't have to accept the Soi Dog Foundation's appeals in order to realise that the dog meat trade in Thailand must be dealt with.
New laws and regulations are not necessary because a British movie star says so. They are necessary because common sense and public health say so.
The entire business of dog meat is disgraceful. The dogs, by all evidence, are mostly rounded up off the streets of cities and towns, without regard for their origin or current health.
There is no regulation or oversight of their slaughter. Unanimous eyewitness reports agree that the dogs are killed in filthy, retch-inducing, makeshift slaughterhouses.
All the meat is sold on the black market, often illegally mislabelled.
The export business is even worse — even more criminal, cruel, unhygienic and, of course, completely illegal.
The constant demands of Vietnamese and Chinese dog-meat sellers add to the mass roundups of strays, and the theft of pets.
The final irony is that Thailand has such a large population of soi dogs for the slaughterhouses because of religious tradition. We must separate the appalling lack of care and feeling for soi dogs from true religious belief. No one wants to harm the animals because of Buddhist tradition. Equally clear is the lack of actual concern and help to control the population of homeless dogs that are unwanted, except by meat merchants.
There is no tradition of either consuming or butchering dogs in Thai history, outside of tiny groups of minorities.
In the past, no group has demanded the right to kill dogs and consume their flesh.
A law banning the roundup of dogs and their unregulated slaughter must be passed, in the name of good health.
The sale of dog meat should also be banned as a public health measure, as well as in recognition that there is no place at the table for "man's best friend".