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Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

By Quynh Tran   July 5, 2022 | 06:31 pm PT
Huynh Thi Nhu Quyen has spent the last six years rescuing dogs and cats from slaughterhouses and raising them at a shelter in HCMC's Cu Chi District.
Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

The 44-year-old refers to the 500 dogs and cats as her "children."
On a rented piece of land with a building, she has also built high walls and put up bamboo beds with blue tarps above to provide shelter for them.

She says when her family lost a dog six years ago, she visited many slaughterhouses, black markets and street vendors selling dog meat to look for her pet but could not find it.

"During my search, I saw many dogs locked in cages, lying around waiting to be killed. Their eyes seemed to be pleading. From that moment I began to rescue dogs and cats."

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

In the beginning, she would pay hundreds of thousands of dong (VND100,000 = $4.29) to VND1 million ($42.86) from her own pocket to save them.

But later she began to seek donations from animal lovers online to rescue dogs and cats from meat trading rings.

She raised them at home at first, but soon space became a problem and so for the last two years she has been renting the Cu Chi place (21 Nguyen Thi Se Street, Tan Thong Hoi Commune).

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Hundreds of cats also live there. She says each animal had its own back story at the time of rescued, with a majority being severely sick or emaciated, and in a state of panic after being sent to and ill-treated at slaughterhouses.

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Initially, she had difficulty treating the animals’ sicknesses, resulting in the death of some of them.

"I only knew how to feed them at first. Later I learned more about dog and cat illnesses and how to treat them. I no longer needed to visit the vet as frequently as I used to."

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Every day the animals consume some 65 kilograms of rice and 20 kilograms of pork and fish, with the cats consuming slightly more seeds.

The food is kept in freezers after being bought at wholesale markets.

Quyen also picks up leftovers from restaurants and food vendors near her home.

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Nguyen Phuoc Tri, whom Quyen employs, cooks and feeds the dog twice a day.

The 60-year-old man who gets paid VND4 million a month, says: "I came to support her four years ago after seeing her working alone with too many animals. The more I helped out, the more I fell in love with the animals and I've stuck with them until now."

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Tri is at the place all day to help take care of the animals. He feeds, cleans, bathes, and treats them in case of sickness.

He says the Covid-19 epidemic last year was the most difficult time. Since the city had implemented social distancing, food was limited and the animals had to make do with thin porridge to survive.

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

Quyen used to sell tofu to pay for the animals’ food.

But for more than a year now she has been cooking hu tieu noodle soup and selling it in the morning and evening until midnight. She says she only sleeps four or five hours a day.

"The cost of raising them is more than VND60 million a month, so selling noodles alone is not enough. Fortunately, I get support from my family and the community, and so I can take care of them."

Saigon woman rescues 500 dogs and cats from slaughter

At noon, during her break time, she visits the shelter to take care of the animals.

The place is also always open to animals lovers who visit and provide the inmates with food and care.

"Now I just want the noodle shop to always be packed with customers so that I can have more money to feed my children. It feels good to see them happy and healthy."


Quyen with the dogs and cats she saved at her shelter in HCMC's Cu Chi District. Video by VnExpress/Cong Khanh

 
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