Animal Welfare Law in Thailand

Thailand introduced its first animal welfare law in 2014. The Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act, B.E. 2557 (2014) came into being on 27 December 2014.

Animals protected by the law are defined as those “raised as pets, as animals for work, as beasts of burden, as friends, as livestock, as performing show animals, or for any other purpose, no matter with or without owners”. Owners of animals are now required by law to “raise, nurture and keep the animals in appropriate conditions with good health and sanitation and with sufficient food and water”. Within the act, the term “owner” is deemed to cover all family members, domestic help, and any friends assigned to take care of a pet.

Menus with live vertebrate are now illegal in Thailand. Trading in and consuming dog and cat meat is now illegal in Thailand under the 2014 Act. Feeding live prey to snakes, crocodiles or other animals is also prohibited. It prohibits neglect, torture, and uncaring transport of live animals. Neglect includes improper housing and transportation of animals, which can lead to injury and death.

An offense is punishable by law, which may impose a two year-term in prison, and a fine of up to 40,000 baht (US$1,663), or both.

Pet owners who dump unwanted dogs and cats at temples can now be charged with abandoning and endangering the animal. People are instead encouraged take injured or unwanted animals to animal welfare organizations and associations who will raise the funds required or contact the authorities to manage the problem.

The Thai cabinet, in October 2018, approved an amendment to the animal cruelty law. The amendment, initiated by the Department of Livestock Development of the Agriculture Ministry, would require the registration of pets. The majority of pet owners have accepted the need for registration in principle, but object to the proposed registration fee of 450 baht per animal.

Abandoned animals

Thailand had about 350,000 stray dogs and cats in 2007. By 2017 the number had risen to 860,000. According to the Department of Livestock Development, “If we do nothing, Thailand will have as many as 2 million stray dogs and cats in 2027 and 5 million in 2037.