Animal welfare questioned after fire at Pet Market in Bangkok

The rescued chicken was given oxygen on the Department of Livestock Development’s mobile emergency veterinary vehicle.

Firefighters had to cut through padlocks to rescue a surviving chicken from a pre-dawn fire that broke out in the Srisomrat Pet Market in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Out of dozens of chickens in the shop, only one survived. The rescued chicken was given oxygen on the Department of Livestock Development’s mobile emergency veterinary vehicle. Despite the low survival rate, officials worked tirelessly to save the animals.

The owner of the betta fish shop, which has been in business for 10 years selling high-grade betta fish for competitions and export said the fire destroyed everything. Hundreds of betta fish and equipment worth about 100,000 baht were lost in an instant.

Suwannanee Sangdee, 49, expressed her shock, saying she was crying and speechless because there is nothing left. Her shop was in the worst-hit area.

Another group of animals affected by the fire were exotic pets, including beautiful snakes. At one shop, at least 10 snakes died, their charred bodies found curled up inside their enclosures. Another exotic pet shop estimated their losses at around 500,000 baht. Though their 200 snakes survived, they suffered from smoke inhalation.

Pornchanok Veerawongwiwat, owner of The Ball Club, recounted the incident, saying that at 6 a.m., a staff member of PETA called to tell her about the fire. She was shocked and heartbroken, especially for her snakes. But the caller assured her that some had been rescued and urged her to come to the shop quickly.

SOS Animal Thailand, an animal welfare organization, sent representatives to assess the situation. Dayin Petcharat from SOS Animal Thailand emphasized the need for urgent discussions on animal welfare at the market.

“We have been advocating for better animal welfare management at pet markets including reducing overcrowding, ensuring proper care and living conditions, providing vaccinations, and enforcing licensing regulations.Despite existing laws, there has been no change,” she said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by forensic officials, who have collected evidence from the scene. CCTV footage captured a bright orange flash at around 3 a.m., after which two security guards nearby radioed for help. Despite their efforts to control the fire, it spread rapidly, with explosions heard, necessitating the deployment of over ten fire trucks. It took an hour to extinguish the blaze.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has requested that the State Railway of Thailand provide a temporary space for the remaining animals and restore electricity to the pet shops.

Vendors are encouraged to apply for compensation of up to 11,400 baht each for their lost equipment. The exact cause of the fire, rumored to be from a fan left running to ventilate the animals, is still under investigation. (TNA)