Animal welfare an emerging interest among Vietnamese citizens

By Long Nguyen   December 4, 2021 | 09:00 pm PT
Vietnamese citizens are increasingly expressing anger, dismay and opposition to animal abuse, as also support for actions to prevent it in the future.

Earlier this month, a man in Hanoi set his cat on fire, shocking and outraging people to the extent that it created headlines in news outlets.

People expressed disbelief that someone could be so "cruel and evil."

The cat escaped the fire and ran into a house nearby, according to the Hanoi-based Center of Pet Animal Protections and Studies, which is treating it.

The culprit posted an apology on Facebook, admitting there was no excuse for his action. But the online community refused to accept it, continuing to call him a savage for the inhuman act of setting to fire a cat that was a pet shared by him and his girlfriend.

The cat, now named Dilo, remains severely wounded. It has received a lot of support from the online community that has been sending money to the center to take care of her.

The netizens also vented their rage on the mobile store where the Hanoi man worked, forcing it to shut down recently.

With more and more Vietnamese discovering the joys of having pets and considering them a part of the family, outrage over animal abuse is becoming more common.

Dido is being treated at the Center of Pet Animal Protections and Studies. Photo courtesy of the center

Dido is being treated at the Center of Pet Animal Protections and Studies. Photo courtesy of the center

Another prominent case that happened recently was when 15 dogs and cats belonging to a Covid patient were destroyed in the southern province of Ca Mau last month, drawing local and international condemnation. Many people said such an extreme measure was not necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

The local authorities later admitted they might have been "too hasty" and promised such shortcomings would be corrected in the future.

Many heartbroken people created online petitions urging Vietnamese authorities to come up with veterinary guidelines that protect animals during the pandemic.

In June, HCMC residents demanded an investigation to find the culprit responsible for killing many pets in Thao Dien, Saigon’s expat hub. They collectively signed an online petition to raise awareness of pet safety.

"We took one of the dogs to Sai Gon Vet, where doctor Nguyen Van Nghia diagnosed her with severe poisoning. This was no rat poison, this was specifically targeted at cats and dogs," the petition noted, calling for action against the criminals.

On many social networks, groups of cat- and dog-lovers are becoming increasingly popular, attracting millions of members.

Over the last two years of the pandemic, many groups have been actively helping pets and their owners, from finding services amid the prolonged lockdown to looking for new homes for abandoned pets.

Wayne Capriotti, an expert on the country’s pet industry and founder of Vietnam’s first pet-centric magazine, Me Thu Cung (Love Pets), told Asia Life Magazine: "In the last five years, the quantity and quality of pet ownership in Vietnam has increased dramatically, driven by a pet industry social phenomenon first observed in developed countries called ‘pet humanization.’"

During the recent Covid lockdown, Vietnam was the second market in Southeast Asia in terms of interest shown in buying pets, according to Malaysia-based market research firm iPrice.

The report, which analyzed Google searches for pets in Southeast Asian countries, said the pandemic seemed to have sparked great interest in buying pets in the region.

There were 1.9 million searches for pets in Vietnam in the first nine months of the year, up from 1.7 million and 1.4 million during the same period in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

The surge in pet ownership is also reflected in the increase in beauty, healthcare, burial and hotel services for cats and dogs in cities like Hanoi and HCMC.

Laws for Paws Vietnam, a volunteer organization working for the welfare of dogs, says despite some cases of abuse, Vietnamese people generally love their pets and treat them like family.

After the Ca Mau incident, it remarked: "We have to remember that while it was Vietnamese medical staff who sentenced the dogs to a horrible death it was also Vietnamese people who were carrying them home with them, it was also Vietnamese people who adopted two of the puppies along the way and it was Vietnamese people who were outraged by what happened."

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