In scene after scene, he tends to the final moments of the animals he is euthanizing. The man, a French national who’s dedicated his Buriram shelter to dogs rescued from the meat trade, says in many of the clips – used to solicit donations online – that the dogs have rabies and must be put to sleep.
While he presents himself to online donors as an animal savior, his critics say the man has no medical qualifications and point to the clips as evidence that he’s euthanized at least 22 dogs illegally, claims local livestock officials now say they are investigating.
A representative of the livestock department in Buriram province told Coconuts Bangkok on Wednesday that they are investigating The Sound Of Animals founder Michael Chour for multiple legal violations that could lead to criminal charges.
“Right now our legal experts are looking into all the laws he is breaking as well as collecting evidence to make a case against him,” department representative Suriya Kawongkarn said.
Suriya declined to name specific potential charges but cited sections of the law pertaining to performing veterinary services without a license.
In an interview, Chour, 50, denied any wrongdoing. He said his shelter is only dedicated to helping animals and accused disgruntled volunteers of trying to bring down his organization.
Suriya said most complaints to the department have come from people who’ve seen photos and videos showing Chour euthanizing the animals.
One such video was posted online Tuesday by Facebook user Nic Nack, who identifies herself as the manager of another Thailand-based animal charity, Medical & Mobility for Animals Worldwide.
In the clip, Chour is seen trying to give a dog named Pipo an injection. At one point, Pipo jumps toward him excitedly while Chour smacks him to the ground.
After receiving a few gentle pets from Chour, the dog is held down by two volunteers while the Frenchman injects something. The dog panics, screams and runs around several seconds before collapsing to the ground. At the end of the 5-minute video, Pipo lies motionless.
Nic Nack, who did not reply to messages seeking comment, labeled Chour “Doctor Death” in the post and called for him to be arrested and prosecuted.
“Chour although claiming to be a trained Doctor, has no medical or veterinary qualifications. … It is alleged these 22 victims died for nothing more than social media attention by the notorious fraudster Doctor Death,” Nick Nack wrote yesterday on Facebook.
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Chour denied any wrongdoing. He acknowledged that he is not a veterinarian and said he doesn’t claim to be one.
“The shelter is clean and is supervised by 19 staff,” he added. “I don’t work. I live with my Thai wife and have been helping rescue animals for about two and a half years,” he said.
As for the video of him euthanizing Pipo, Chour said it was an “emergency case” in which the dog’s owner asked him to “inject the dog with medicine given to him by the vets, as instructed.”
“It was just an emergency because the dog was biting everyone and the owner asked me to. I got the medicine from the vet. I don’t even know what I was injecting to the dog,” Chour said of the video. He said he did not know what was in the syringe but conceded the dog is now dead.
He said he is simply “the face” of the organization while a Thai man he identified only as “Ded” manages the shelter. He declined to put a reporter in touch with Ded.
“We don’t euthanize dogs here. I’m not a vet nor am I doing any work. I’m just helping street dogs from Thailand and rescue animals from the dog trade in Cambodia,” Chour said.
However, dozens of images and videos seen by Coconuts Bangkok tell a different story.
Purportedly saved posts from Sound of Animals, show Chour putting nearly two dozen animals to death. Many of the posts, apparently written by Chour, declare that the animals either have rabies or symptoms of rabies and need to be put to sleep. They’re usually paired with calls for donations.
“So horrible story again and again .. pipo as i think have rabbies … terrible to must put him to sleep ..he bite 3 peoples and many dogs .. [sic],” reads the caption showing Pipo being euthanized.
In video after video, he can be heard declaring the animals have rabies before injecting them with something, at which point they appear to die.
“Relax, relax. You cannot go anywhere. [unintelligible] … I will take care of you. I will take care of you,” he says in one. “Now you cannot leave. Now you cannot go anywhere, you cannot. Yeah, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.”
It’s not the first time Chour has come to the attention of local animal authorities. Suriya, of the livestock department, said officials questioned and formally warned him against illegally treating animals about six months ago.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Chour dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing. He said the livestock department visit earlier this year was a “routine checkup.”
“A lot of things are being said about me, of course I know about it. But I don’t know why it’s being said because it’s not true. Maybe some ex-staff are mad at the manager,” he said.
Though public awareness campaigns and police crackdowns have helped rein in the problem, Thai street dogs continue to be sold to slaughterhouses which butcher them for sale, mostly in Laos (To find out more, read our classic recipe on the proper preparation of Coconut Milk Dog).
In addition to rescuing dogs from the meat market, The Sound of Animals says it is “dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned street dogs” in Thailand and Cambodia in its shelter named “Blue Dream.” It’s been around for over a decade and its Facebook page has more than 40,000 followers.
Like other animal welfare organizations in Thailand, it relies heavily on donations and posts heart-wrenching appeals on social media for money.
“Dear friends, our shelter needs help, our dogs need help, we have had to cut down the food run, return injured dogs to their homes… we cannot afford it and we have 236 dogs to feed with only 2 days dog food left,” he wrote in an Instagram post Monday along with a link to the organization’s pages on donation platforms including Paypal, GoFundMe and JustGiving.
View this post on Instagram
Dear friends, our shelter needs help, our dogs need help, we have had to cut down the food run, return injured dogs to their homes, we can no longer save and bring in rescues, we cannot afford it and we have 236 dogs to feed with only 2 days dog food left. It is so difficult to ask for help, so difficult to find the right words. Please help us 🙏 Donation : www.paypal.me/TheSoundOfAnimals England : https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carol-james?fbclid=IwAR0lODvnwFJu1SVMfbihKUFlx-Qjz0P8Jw0of_GcsE2C9SMlrPMxihDa-QE America : https://www.gofundme.com/f/2-hands-helping-4-paws?utm_source=facebook #anyhelpmatters #pleasehelpushelpthem #share #tag #donate @anneke1962rm @thebluedreamshelterthailand
Most comments were supportive.
“U are an angel,” Instagram user @Terryboisvertjones wrote Monday.
“I donated because I have been following Michael for years now and I know it’s been very difficult on him, he has a heart of gold and has devoted life to this cause and trying to educate and stop the animal cruelty and teach people this isnt the way, to have love and compassion for all life…” Shauna Doucette, who donated US$100 last week via GoFundMe, wrote on the site.