Thai police have arrested four people, including a Vietnamese man, who were attempting to carry almost 2,000 dogs into Vietnam to be served as meat.
Nakhon Phanom Governor Rerngsak Mahawinijchaimontree told The Nation his team cooperated with animal-control staff and police to arrest the gang on Thursday night.
He said they arrested Montree Thanklang, 45, a Nakhon Phanom resident, and Hai, 30, a Vietnamese, while they were in a truck containing 600 dogs passing through the province's Na Thom district.
Four other trucks containing 1,200 dogs were seized while they traveled through Si Songkhram district, where police arrested Noppadon Chaiwangrot, 40, a Sakon Nakhon resident.
Rerngsak said police were told that Noppadon had earlier released 600 other dogs into a forest.
"Police believe all the dogs would have been transferred to a ship waiting in Ban Phaeng district of Nakhon Phanom before going across the Mekong River to be sold in Vietnam, where lots of dogs are ordered to be cooked as famous exotic dishes."
He said police pressed charges against the suspects under the Animal Epidemic Act 1956 that prohibits relocating animals to zones at risk of epidemics without permission.
The seized 1,800 dogs are being kept at the Nakhon Phanom Animal Quarantine Station.
Previously, in June, the province's authorities raided a place that housed the dogs before they were traded in Na Wa District.
The dogs reportedly fetch up to 1,000 Thai baht (US$33). Most dog traders are apparently from the Tha Rae District in Sakon Nakhon, where they travel to villages, engaging in barter trade, especially with plastic buckets.