Is this the end of the dog meat trade in Vietnam?

A dog rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea arrives at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria shelter on Jan 5, 2015. Source: AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MACPHERSON.

VIETNAM is a beautiful country that is undoubtedly rich in history, culture, and of course, delicious cuisine.

But its government officials are calling for an end to the practice of one particular Vietnamese culture that is in deeply embedded in its history: the consumption of dog meat.

Dog meat is consumed in some regions in China, South Korea, and Vietnam, a practice that dates back thousands of years. And every second, a dog is slaughtered somewhere in these countries.

In 2014, it was estimated that 25 million dogs are eaten each year by humans. That number could have gone up to 30 million dogs a year by now.

Activists from animal rights groups ‘Animal Liberation Wave’ and ‘Last Chance for Animals’ hold dead puppies retrieved from a dog meat farm, as they protest against the dog meat trade in Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul on July 17, 2018. Source: Ed JONES / AFP.

In China, dog meat is believed to be a health tonic, and thus, 20 percent of the population still consume dog meat.

China hosts the controversial 10-day Yulin Dog Meat Festival, during which some 100,000 dogs will be eaten. Some are pets that were snatched from their owners’ homes.

Animal protection groups such as the Humane Society International (HSI) have been campaigning to end the festival.

Similarly, in South Korea, HSI has begun identifying dog meat farms in the East Asian country and is working on pulling the dogs out of the farms.

In South Korea, 60 percent of the people eat dog meat regularly, according to the World Dog Alliance (WDA). And it does not go as far as just eating the flesh – Koreans use dog flesh extracts in skin lotions.

As of Oct 9, 2018, HSI has successfully shut down 13 dog meat farms in South Korea.

Additionally, earlier this year, the country’s city court ruled it was illegal to kill dogs for food.

In Vietnam, where as many as five million dogs are eaten every year, Hanoi officials announced that the sale of dog meat will be banned from the central districts of the city beginning in 2021.

The Hanoi People’s Committee released a statement urging Hanoi’s citizens to abandon the habit of eating both dog and cat meat.

“Slaughtering and using dog and cat meat has created objections among tourists and international visitors living in Hanoi, affecting the image of a civilized capital,” the statement read.

Southeast Asia Globe cited a Hanoi Department of Health representative as saying that there are plans to “gradually phase out the slaughtering and trading of dog meat.”

Dog meat trade Vietnam

A store that selling dog meat at Hanoi’s Old Quarter in Vietnam. For many Vietnamese, dog meat is a delicacy that is thought to increase stamina. Source: Shutterstock.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 shops selling dog and cat meat in Hanoi alone. And according to HSI, more than 80,000 dogs are trafficked from Thailand and Laos to meet the demands in Vietnam each year.

The Department of Health hopes that “by 2021, there will be no dog meat restaurants in the city center”.

The move is also part of a national program to stamp out rabies, caused by the improper raising of the animals, by 2021.