An ongoing investigation is seeking the truth behind a viral social media story about the death of a dog.
A story quickly spread through social media yesterday about a medical student who is alleged to have poisoned his pet dog with extremely high doses of human medicine to falsely claim Bt50,000 in compensation from a transport company for the death of his dog while being transported.
The Thai Animal Guardians Association (Thai AGA) and the Livestock Development Department are seeking evidence that the alleged event took place. Thai AGA secretary-general Roger Lohanan said the two agencies are cooperating to discover the truth about the dog's death.
If it can be proven that the dog was poisoned by its owner, they will file a lawsuit against him in court for violating the Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act. Conviction for intentionally causing cruelty could result in up to two years in prison or a fine up to Bt40,000.
"We are now aware of this issue and we are currently investigating what really happened. It should not take long to find the truth behind the dog's death," Roger said. The two organisations have already dispatched a team to seek evidence.
"We have to provide scientific evidence to officers in order to sue the dog's owner and then he will have to defend himself in court about whether he intended to kill the dog for compensation or not."
The issue came to light publicly when Nakhon Ratchasima veterinarian Anongnart Sutham posted on her Facebook account that one of her clients showed up at her clinic to have her examine the corpse of Pomeranian dog.
Her post said the owner told her that the dog died while being transported and he asked for the examination result to claim compensation from the transport company. However, Anongnart noticed that there was a pill in the bag used to carry the dog, and she conducted an autopsy to find the exact cause of death.
She found many medicine pills in the dog's stomach, she wrote. On closer examination, they turned out to be anti-hypertension pills for human use.
She asked who had allowed the dog to consume the medicine, and discovered it was the dog's owner, she wrote.
Anongnart then took her autopsy results to the police station.
She also heard that the dog's owner abandoned his attempt to claim Bt50,000 compensation from the transportation company, but instead threatened to ask the veterinary council to inspect the vet's operation.
This led her to disclose what really happened on her Facebook, she wrote.
She also said that after she posted the issue, another animal clinic in Nakhon Ratchasima said they had experienced a similar case involving the same dog owner.
Roger said that from the story that Anongnart told, the dog's owner may face another allegation of violating the law, as he allegedly treated his dog without a valid licence, for which he might face a heavy penalty of both imprisonment and a fine.
"Right now we have to find evidence to sue him in court, and then the court will investigate whether he intended to kill his dog for profit or if there are other similar cases that he killed his dog for compensation," Roger said.