Dogs are plentiful in Thailand. Many homeless ones (soi dogs) can be found in Bangkok but in the country they generally do belong to someone.
In my village just about every house hold would have at least two, some people like my brother in law have four of them. Some households look after them to what would be considered an average standard in the west but many don’t look after them at all. They don’t have them as companions they have them simply for security and no other reason that I can work out.
Dogs fights are common (many a day) and most morning I wake up to dogs barking before the loudspeaker drowns them out. Basically they are a pain in the butt and a real nuisance. They survive on what ever they can scrounge and any left over sticky rice that the family might throw their way at the end of the night. They always look sick and many die a long and painful death due to disease and malnutrition. From my limited knowledge of Buddhism I understand it is wrong to personally take the life of any animal and therefore these sick dogs are never ‘put down’.
One way around that problem is by using the bucket truck. Every few days a ute (they call them pick ups here) drives around all the villages. In the cage on the back are many dogs and on top of the cage are many buckets. If you want to get rid of your dog you wave the driver down and depending on the size and quality of your dog you will receive a bucket or buckets as a trade.
Once the cage is full (one more dog and they will all die from suffocation) the truck returns to the border with Laos. Here it seems they are moved onto a bigger truck for the long journey to Vietnam and eventually onto some famished Vietnamese dinner plate.
In Lak Sao where I work sometimes in Laos I am only 30kms from the Vietnamese border and every day we see many of these trucks driving past.
A friend and I saw one parked up one day so he got out and took some photos.
*Edit* January, 2011. Here is a video that I took last year of the dog truck climbing through the mountains near Lak Sao, close to the border between Laos and Vietnam.