Thailand, one of the most beautiful and peaceful nations in the world, houses a deadly secret. A savage and harrowing trade reaches across the entire country yet is somehow hidden from most of its people. Dogs are disappearing by the thousand, pet and street dogs all vanishing into the shadows, but where are they going? Shot on location in Thailand and Vietnam the documentary follows the stoic determination of an ex-Fleet Street journalist as he battles to uncover the truth. Tracking down the cruelty from all angles the film exposes the inhumane practices of both a local and international trade. With the help of many tenacious supporters he aims to expose the secrets of this tragedy, but will this be enough to galvanise a country into action?

‘Shadow Trade’ took 18 months to produce with our investigation and filming specialists spending most of that time in the dog meat trade hotspots. Two main trips saw Director Richard Elson and Director of Photography Ben Todd travel from London to Thailand and Vietnam. In addition to this two dog smuggling interception operations involved cameraman Prem Ananda being flown in urgently from Manila and news cameraman Florian Witulski being rushed from Bangkok. Journalist John Keeble was on the scene, travelling within Thailand on the investigation, whose costs were financed by the Soi Dog Foundation.

In the shadows of the trade, a small group of Thai heroes enabled us to film during their dangerous undercover work.

This investigative documentary offers a unique insight into a practice that has been known by the public only as arrest and reaction headlines. It has never-before-seen footage and firsthand accounts from eye witnesses, high ranking officials and even smugglers themselves.

The unfolding story explains the trade and the cruelty without showing the harrowing scenes that still haunt those who witnessed them. It also shows that many of the people living in Thailand condemn the dog meat trade and campaign against it.

Mostly ‘Shadow Trade’ was filmed openly and with full permission from subjects but at times the team had to use undercover methods. Specialist filming equipment, including cameras hidden in watches and buttonholes, were used. Wherever possible, the team acted to save the lives and suffering of the dogs.

The complicated logistics were managed from London by Executive Producer Ella Todd, Producer Cherique Pohl and Researcher Stacey Emiliou.

Oliver Dee