At last: a town in Vietnam is trying to phase out cat and dog meat

NEWS AND COMMENT-CENTRAL HOI AN: Central Hoi An town will trying to stop the sale of cat and dog meat at the end of 2021 under what is described as a Memorandum of Understanding with animal welfare organisation Four Paws. The reason? To create a tourist-friendly environment and to stop the spread of rabies. Also to improve animal rights 👍.

This is China but it is exactly same - Yulin meat festival. A family of dogs is about to feel immense suffering and pain before being eaten by people. Photo: Getty.

I would like to read between the lines and add that tourists from the West do not like to see cats and dogs cooked at stalls. It's a big barrier to enjoyment in what is I understand an interesting country to visit for a tourist. And of course I feel I should add that Covid has played a part here. I'm thinking of the wet markets in China where Covid might have started. These places are where disease can be spread from animal to person.

RELATED: How to stop the cat meat trade in Vietnam.

For me, it is amazingly good news. It is as if a small chip has been taken out of the edifice that is the cat and dog meat market in Asia. Perhaps the city administrators have seen the light or they had a eureka moment when they realised that eating domestic and stray cats does not sit that easy with Western tourists. To be frank, it should not sit easy with Vietnamese people either because often these are domestic pets and also often they are not killed under regulated conditions i.e. they are killed cruelly. I won't go on.

Julie Sanders, the Director of Companion Animals at Four Paws reminds us that about 5 million dogs and cats in Vietnam are killed for cat and dog meat and consumed. She says this presents a community health risk. She is hopeful that this initiative will be replicated in other places in Vietnam.

Nguyen The Hung, vice chairman of Hoi An People’s Committee provides with us a clue that this is more than simply about tourism. It is about animal rights. He said that the committee wants to bolster animal rights. It pleases me tremendously to hear that.

He believes that it will make the town a 'green' tourist destination. I take that to mean a family orientated tourist destination meaning suitable for all tourists. I wonder if Western tourists have complained to Vietnam's Tourist Association online about cat and dog meat in that country. I suspect that they have.

The weakness in this initiative is that Hung says that traders in cat and dog meat cannot be banned from selling it but only encouraged to change their ways. That, in contrast, displeases me tremendously because cat and dog meat is a deeply ingrained culture. 

It is going to be hard to stop. And perhaps for some people it is their only income. You wonder if it might be a good idea for the authorities to provide them with a little bit of compensation financially to encourage them find an alternative means of generating an income.

I'm told that there are 2,500 dogs and cats in this town and 70-90% are vaccinated against rabies. My online research tells me that more than 70 people in Vietnam are killed each year by rabies; nearly always from a bite from a rabid dog. Is rabies a problem in Vietnam? It is and it has been for more than 40 years.

Over the preceding five years on average 350,000 people annually have been bitten by mainly dogs and some cats and another website tells me that more than 80 people have died of rabies as a consequence.

The story comes from vnexpress.net. They do not publish a picture of a cat meat trader which I think is telling. It tells us that such photos are objectionable. They are. I can't show them either as advertisers  find them unacceptable. That's a reason for the proposed phasing out of this archaic business. 

They eat cat meat under the superstition that is cures arthritis and other diseases. I'm sorry to say it but it is idiotic because there is not one iota of science behind that superstition. But as a consequence millions of cats and dogs have been killed and consumed. All on the basis of superstition. It's time to move into the 21st-century and apply a bit of common sense and science, please.

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