The Soi Dog Foundation, one of the leading organisations battling the dog meat trade in Asia, has called again for a concerted effort in Vietnam to end the eating of dogs and cats.
The renewed call comes after the announcement that Liberty Media, owners of the Formula One (F1) sport have agreed to a “multi-year” deal to stage Grand Prix races on the streets of Hanoi.
John Dalley, founder of Soi Dog, said: “By announcing a ban on selling dog meat in the city from 2021, the authorities in Hanoi have already shown that they are concerned about the effect eating dogs and cats has on the image of their city.
“We hope they will look at how the controversy over the dog meat trade in South Korea went viral during and after the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in February this year.
“For Hanoi the difference is that the Hanoi Grand Prix will be an annual event, with the spotlight being shone again and again on this dark, disgusting trade.
“We call on the Hanoi city fathers to take action now to end the eating of dogs and cats, and all the cruelty that goes with it, all across the city, so that Hanoi’s reputation will not suffer internationally when the first grand prix is staged in 2020.”
An estimated five million dogs and cats are slaughtered and eaten in Vietnam every year. Most of the animals are snatched street animals or pets kidnapped from owners’ yards or gardens.
The animals are transported across the country jammed in cages so tightly they cannot move, often without food or water, before being force-fed rice or even cement to increase their weight, then bludgeoned, knifed or burned alive in filthy illegal abattoirs.
Quite apart from the cruelty involved, the trade in dog flesh is a serious risk to health.
In 2009 an outbreak of cholera in north Vietnam was tracked back to infected dog meat.
Rabies is another concern. Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries are committed to the eradication of rabies by 2020 but, as Dalley pointed out to government officials as long ago as 2013, “Stopping the dog meat trade will not eliminate rabies. But most certainly rabies will never be eliminated as long as large numbers of unvaccinated dogs are shipped across domestic and international borders.”
Those in Vietnam who support the eating of dogs, assert that it has been part of Vietnamese culture for centuries, that it brings good luck and increases men’s libido.
Dalley counters: “The eating of dogs and cats in Hanoi is a relatively recent phenomenon, introduced by Chinese military advisers as recently as the war of independence.
“There is no place for cruelty in culture. Hanoi is growing into a 21st-century city, and practices that belong in the dark ages should be cleared away.”