Irresponsible pet owners reason behind dog squads

By Huy Hung   April 15, 2022 | 05:00 pm PT
Irresponsible pet owners reason behind dog squads
Unleashed, unmuzzled dogs at a park in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
I would be glad to see Hanoi's future dog squads doing their job. But how will owners of unattended pets be fined anyway?

In accordance with a rabies prevention plan for the 2022-2030 period, Hanoi People's Committee stated there will be dog squads in 579 wards and communes in the city to capture stray pets.

It added that people must declare pet ownership to authorities and guarantee that their pets are kept within their homes. Pets going out must also be leashed and muzzled, and owners will have to pay should their pets be captured, culled or if they hurt others.

I don't have pets but am an animal lover. While I agree with having dog squads, I don't think that the pets are ever in the wrong. If a pet attacks another person, the blame should be squarely placed on its owner.

The park near my house has long been a public toilet for pets in the neighborhood. Every morning and afternoon, people bring their pets here and let them urinate and defecate in public as they please. Not many chose to clean up the mess afterwards.

I tried to reason with them many times, but most decided to turn a blind eye. Some even gave me strange, intimidating looks.

Reports of unleashed, unmuzzled dogs attacking people can be found anywhere, from urban areas to the countryside. I've seen many people walking their dogs without a muzzle, even if some of the dogs seemed aggressive.

"He's a good boy, he won't bite" is the excuse given, even as their dogs are growling at passersby. After all, if someone got bitten, they, not the owners, are the ones who's hurt, and no amount of compensation could make up for the permanent scars on their bodies.

But here's what I don't understand. Many people in Vietnam condemn dog theft, yet they themselves are not responsible pet owners. They never thought about how their decision to let their dogs roam unattended is one of the reasons why dog thieves thrive.

The law says unleashed and unmuzzled dogs result in a fine between VND600,000 and VND800,000 ($35) for their owners. A similar fine is also be applicable for those who don't vaccinate their pets against rabies. But in reality, we don't have enough resources to actually enforce these regulations, so violations occur daily.

I believe there should be mandatory pet registration numbers so authorities could better manage them. We can even have sudden raids to detect families that own pets without licenses, and trace hostile pets back to their owners quickly for penalties.

Raising pets is a personal right, but owners must be responsible for the sake of community safety. Pets have never been the problem; their owners are.

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