Vietnam dog slaughterhouse closes, setting puppies free

By AFP   November 5, 2023 | 09:53 pm PT
More than 40 dogs, including a litter of 10-day-old puppies, were set free from a slaughterhouse in Vietnam after its owner quit the dog meat trade.

An estimated five million canines are killed for meat every year in Vietnam -- the second highest in the world behind China -- with some believing eating the meat can help dispel bad luck while others consider it a delicacy.

But attitudes towards eating dog meat are slowly changing, particularly in cities, as the animals are increasingly kept as pets.

Kieu Viet Hung, who has been working in the trade for the past seven years, on Friday handed 44 dogs over to a shelter, which will care for the animals and try to find them new homes.

"When I used to kill them, I felt sorry for them," Hung, 39, told AFP at his farm in mountainous Thai Nguyen City, north of Hanoi.

Kieu Viet Hung, the owner of a dog farm and slaughterhouse, hands the dogs over to a shelter, Nov. 2. 2023. Photo by AFP

Kieu Viet Hung, owner of a dog farm and slaughterhouse, carries a dog next to cages at the facility in Thai Nguyen Province on Nov. 3, 2023. Photo by AFP

Hung slaughtered up to 20,000 dogs over the past seven years. The majority were sold to him by rural families who breed puppies at home to supplement their income.

Traders would deliver around 50 puppies every one or two months to Hung's facility, where they were kept in filthy cages, fattened up over several weeks or months and then killed, according to the Humane Society International (HSI), one of several charities working to end the dog meat trade in Vietnam.

Hung has now switched his business to trading scrap metal and selling fertilizer.

Most of the dogs killed in Vietnam are stolen pets or strays snatched from the streets using poisoned bait, painful taser guns, or imported from surrounding countries such as Cambodia, HSI says.

"Whilst we've seen the government take some measures, (including) increasing penalties for those who steal pet animals, we still know that there's a big problem with lack of enforcement," Lola Webber of HSI told AFP.

Authorities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have urged people not to consume dog meat, but the trade continues.

A driver in Ho Chi Minh City last month rammed his car into the motorbike of two men carrying a bag of stolen dogs, state media reported.

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