The owner of a dog slaughterhouse and dog meat restaurant in Viet Nam has closed his business and allowed 18 dogs to be rescued, becoming the first person in the country to take part in a new programme by Humane Society International (HSI) to end dog meat trade in the country.
The Models for Change programme, which is similar to a scheme HSI implemented successfully in South Korea, helps people transition out of the dog meat trade towards more humane livelihoods. Forty-year-old Mr Hiep was eager to work with HSI’s team in Viet Nam to permanently close his dog meat business and stop slaughtering dogs. Eighteen dogs found alive at the property were rescued by HSI.
Phuong Tham, HSI’s country director in Viet Nam, said, “We are very proud to bring our Models for Change program to Viet Nam. The dog meat trade is not only unbelievably cruel, but also poses a very grave risk to human health from the transmission of potentially lethal diseases like rabies. Mr Hiep is the first of what we hope will be many more people to leave this dangerous trade behind them, helping the government achieve its goal of eliminating human rabies deaths from dog interactions by 2030.
“We recognize that many people involved in the dog meat trade are keen to leave due to low profitability, societal and family shame as well as fears of bad karma. We hope our Vietnamese Models for Change program will become a key component of Viet Nam’s strategy to provide industry workers with alternative and economically viable livelihoods, whilst also supporting the government in its efforts to eliminate rabies.”
Mr Hiep plans to transform his business to sell agricultural services as well as groceries. He said, “I know in my heart that killing and eating dogs is wrong, and it was becoming harder and harder for me to do it. I am convinced that being part of this trade was bringing my family bad karma, so I am relieved to work with HSI in Viet Nam to end this chapter in my life and start afresh.
“The risk of spreading rabies through the dog meat trade is something we should all take very seriously, so I feel proud to be standing up for change in my community, and happy to know that the dogs who have been saved will be able to live new lives with families. It’s a good outcome for me, the dogs and my community.”
A large number of dogs who fall victims to Viet Nam’s dog meat trade are either snatched from the streets or stolen from loving families, who often have to buy back their dogs from traders if they are lucky enough to locate then.
The 18 dogs rescued in the slaughterhouse were vaccinated against rabies and distemper, and moved to HSI’s nearby temporary shelter to receive further medical care before being considered for local and international adoption.
Images by HSI