Eating dogs is not a cultural issue and Hanoi authorities’ call to stop the practice should be welcomed, Animals Asia has contended.
Tuan Bendixsen, chief representative of the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) in Vietnam, said his organization is with Hanoi authorities on the ending of killing and eating dogs.
“This is not a cultural issue. We do not discuss whether people eat or do not eat dog meat. The problem to be discussed here is that the AAF has a lot of evidence proving the cruelty in the entire process of killing dogs for meat, from transporting, confining to slaughtering them.
“It is not right to treat dogs as farm animals like chickens, pigs or cows. And what’s more is that it is almost impossible to distinguish a dog raised in a farm for meat from those stolen from a family.
“We all know the dog is a loyal and loving animal. They protect and look after their owners, play with children and support sick and old people. Dogs are not just animals but a member of the society and a good friend of humans.”
Animals Asia is a Hong Kong-based charity that seeks to end cruelty to animals in Asia.
The Hanoi People’s Committee Wednesday issued a statement saying the killing and selling of dogs and cats for human consumption is creating a negative image of the city in the eyes of international tourists and expats. The city plans to ban the selling of dog meat within its inner districts, like Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh or Hai Ba Trung, from 2021.
This dietary preference is tarnishing Hanoi’s image as “civilized and modern,” the statement said, adding, “the city wants people to see the value in treating animals humanely.”
The committee has asked district authorities to compile and update data and statistics on the number of dogs kept as pets in the city, and to communicate to owners how to protect them from diseases like rabies.
Animals Asia said the killing of dogs has not decreased in Vietnam and many parts of Hanoi are still known for dog meat restaurants.
A study by the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) found that every month around 20,000 dogs are transported from the south to the north, including Hanoi, where the practice of eating dog is more common.
But this is not enough, and as a result cases of dog theft are routine, it said.
Tuan of Animals Asia also highlighted the risk of diseases from eating dog meat.
In 2016-17, the ACPA worked with Vietnam’s National Center for Veterinary Diagnosis to conduct rabies screening of over 400 dog brain samples from 14 slaughterhouses in Hanoi.
Most of those slaughterhouses get dogs from the south, and the results showed one in every 100 dogs had been infected with rabies.
Hanoi currently has around 500,000 dogs and cats kept at homes, according to the city authorities. Some 87 percent are kept for “housekeeping purposes,” while the rest are raised to be sold or consumed as food.
An estimated five million dogs are consumed every year in Vietnam, second only to China, which eats roughly 20 million.
Many of the dogs that are eaten are pets stolen from their owners and sold to small, unlicensed abattoirs that kill them in brutal ways.
Dog theft is rarely treated as a criminal offense in Vietnam unless the animal is valued at more than VND2 million (approximately $100).