A Fire Reportedly Killed Over 1,000 Cats, Dogs & Fish in Chatuchak Pet Market

Animal lovers, please bear with me, this is going to be quite the distressing article to get through (and honestly it was incredibly hard for me to write as well).

In the early hours of 11 June, a devastating fire broke out at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, leading to the tragic deaths of over 1,000 pets and ornamental fish.

The blaze, which started around 4:30AM local time, engulfed all 118 stores in Sri Somrat Market, the area of Chatuchak dedicated to pets.

Among the animals affected were dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, birds, Siamese fighting fish, and chickens. As far as we know, there were no human injuries reported.

Fire Response and Investigation

The market, known for its vast array of goods ranging from plants to ceramics, and from food to clothes, is one of the largest in Southeast Asia and a major tourist attraction.

The fire response was swift, with more than 10 water trucks deployed to the scene. Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames within an hour.

An investigation is currently underway to determine the exact cause of the fire, with initial inspections suggesting it might have been triggered by an electrical fault, according to police superintendent Phuwadon Ounpho. 

Animal Welfare Concerns

The fire has sparked renewed calls for better regulation of the sale and treatment of animals in Thailand.

Animal welfare experts have long criticised the conditions in which animals are kept at Chatuchak Market, accusing vendors of selling endangered species and keeping animals in substandard conditions.

Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation, emphasised the urgent need for improved animal welfare regulations and stricter controls on the breeding and sale of wild animals.

She urged the government to respond transparently and implement clear laws to protect animal welfare in Thailand.

Edwin Wiek, founder and director of the Friends of Wildlife Foundation, also condemned the market, calling it “a shame on the city of Bangkok”.

He also implored the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to take immediate action to stop the unethical and often illegal sale of animals, particularly wild ones, at the market.

Immediate Aftermath and Support

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt instructed officials to assist the victims and invited the public to support the affected retailers by purchasing pets from the market.

This call for support is seen as a way to help the retailers recover from the substantial losses they have incurred.

A guard at one of the bird shops recounted her harrowing experience during the fire.

She was on the mezzanine floor watching over rare birds when the fire broke out. Despite hearing the cries of animals, she faced difficulties breathing and had to run outside for safety.

She mentioned that the cockatoos, some of the most expensive birds at the market, costing 30,000 baht (S$1,103) each, were among those affected by the fire.