We arrive in the morning at the Animal Quarantine Center in Nakhon Phanom, north-east Thailand, just a few kilometers away from mountains which outline the border with Laos. The summer heat is already beating down hard and it's only 9 a.m.
But it's not humidity that hits me as I climb out of the 4WD, rather the overwhelming smell of dog urine and feces.
This is a makeshift shelter that should be housing a maximum of 400 dogs. Instead there are more than 1,700 animals being kept in large concrete pens at the compound. Staff work around the clock.
This region is the heartland for the cruel and inhumane dog smuggling trade. The illegal operation sees an estimated 200,000 dogs transported in trucks from Thailand into neighboring Laos, across the Mekong River and driven across to Vietnam where the meat is considered a delicacy. Some believe it has medicinal qualities and acts as an aphrodisiac - black dogs are apparently the best for sexual dysfunction. Yet no scientific proof has ever proved such a claim.
Previously in taboo food news: