If you enjoy Thai food specialties like Basil Chicken, Chicken Green Curry (Kang keaw wan kai) or plain old fried chicken, the suffering of those little beasties you are digesting is probably not a main concern. However, for those more sensitive to animal rights, a UK newspaper has provided a reason for animal rights activists in Thailand to be proud.
A recent article in The Independent reported that Thai chicken production standards may actually be higher than in basic chicken production practices within the UK.
This could very well be true, as the article provides a statement from Britain’s largest animal welfare charity, RSPCA, that “Thai poultry had more space – around 13 chickens per square metre compared with 20 per square metre in basic UK production – and were allowed to grow for longer, 42 days, compared to as little as 35 days here [the UK]. They were also allowed more rest; six hours of darkness rather than the four they have here.”
If you have lived in Thailand for a while, this may or may not be a surprise, as on the one hand Thais have a reputation for respecting all life forms based on their Buddhist values . On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see malnourished dogs with evident signs of mange roaming the streets in Thailand, or unfortunately even in their owner’s yard.
Nevertheless, these mangy dogs in the alleys (sois) and streets of Thailand may prefer their current plight to their alternative in a tidy Western society: delivery to the pound and extermination without a trial or due process!
So what is the state of animal rights and animal welfare in Thailand, beyond the potentially raised standards in chicken production practices? There does seem to be a need for animal welfare legislation, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) seems a bit concerned that the first law on this to be proposed in Thailand might soon be overlooked by Thai Parliament. PETA’s blog states that “The bill makes it a crime for anyone to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal and includes welfare requirements that would help protect animals who are used in various industries.”
The English language version of this bill, officially titled Thailand’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animal and Animal Welfare Bill, can be found on the Thai Animal Guardian’s Association website.
Although the legislation has not yet been approved, it does show that there is a trend of heightening awareness on animal rights in Thailand. There are also other grass roots organizations in Thailand that focus on efforts on behalf of animals, such as PhaNgan Animal Care, Dog Rescue Center Samui (DRCS), and SCAD in Bangkok.