(CNN) - Over 680 dogs are rescued from smugglers in Thailand's northeastern provinces of Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom while being smuggled for consumption in Vietnam.
Animal control officers and army rangers found 550 dogs in a makeshift den built in an abandoned farmland in Sakon Nakhon's Kusuman District Thursday night.
The place is intended to keep the dogs before smuggling across the Mekong River to Laos and to a final destination in Vietnam. Officials said the smugglers fled before they arrived.
Most of the dogs are in good health. However, they will be taken for treatment at an Animal Quarantine Office in nearby Nakhon Phanom province.
In Nakhon Phanom's Tha Uten, a patrol unit spotted a pick-up truck loaded with 130 dogs on the bank of the Mekong River. The driver of the truck, stacked high with dogs stuffed into tiny cages, was nowhere to be seen.
Officials believe the dogs would have been loaded onto a boat to Laos, destined for Vietnam where dog meat is considered delicacy with medicinal benefit.
For many years, dogs in Thailand have been sent across the border in a lucrative business despite a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a fine of up to $670. Traffickers are known to round up stray dogs in rural Thai villages, and sell them for up to $33 per dog in Vietnam.