The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Wednesday approved an animal welfare bill, the country's first piece of legislation to punish people who neglect, torture or fail to adequately take care of animals.
The bill was passed by a vote of 188-1 with four abstentions.
Its key provisions outlaw cruelty and require owners to provide appropriate welfare and living conditions for animals under their care. They also bar animal cruelty from being used as a non-tariff trade barrier by foreign countries.
The legislation covers domesticate pets, as well as animals kept for food, entertainment or any other purpose. It does not include cruelty to wild animals, which is specifically covered by a separate law. Under the law, officials are permitted to search homes or businesses when they receive a complaint about animal cruelty.
However, NLA members did not include 20 proposals sought to be added to the bill by a civil group for animal rights led by well-known model Chollada “Kae” Mekratri.
The group wanted legislators to include specific details to strengthen law enforcement and give a clearer and broader definition of "animal cruelty". Among the 20 proposed additions were discarding animals or keeping them in a too narrow confinement; getting animals to fight without permission; and eating live animals as well as prohibiting dog and cat trade for consumption. But some provisions were left open for amendment later.
Another group comprising 10 animal rights advocacy groups, including the Soi Dog Foundation, said they were happy with the bill. In a statement released after the bill's passage, the group said many provisions had been amended to cover the general protection of both animals kept for shows and in the wild.