Thai authorities arrested two men as they attempted to smuggle 120 dogs to Vietnam last month, according to the Bangkok Post.
Civil volunteers stopped two pickup trucks carrying fertiliser sacks containing the dogs, 31 of which had suffocated, at Pho Sai Village near the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province.
The volunteers, who are members of a taskforce unit under the Ban Phaeng District office, apprehended the drivers of the two vehicles. The pair confessed to local police that they had been hired by a gang to take the dogs across the Mekong River to Vietnam, where dog is a delicacy served at restaurants.
They face charges of unlicensed trade of animals, transporting unvaccinated animals, and torturing animals. It was not known where the gang had collected the dogs. The 89 dogs saved by the unit have been sent to Nakhon Phanom Animal Quarantine Station.
As the dog meat trade in Vietnam has flourished over the last several years, so have dog thieves. In some rural areas, local residents have taken the law into their own hands to punish dog thieves, as they think the legal penalties against stealing dogs are too light.