FOUR PAWS and ACPA respectfully asks that the Vietnam government ban slaughter and consumption of dog and cat meat due to concerns about the risk of new outbreaks such as COVID-19.
According to investigations by global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, member of ACPA, the trade in dogs and cats for human consumption is very significant across Vietnam, involving the slaughter and consumption of an estimated five million dogs and one million cats every year across Vietnam. The dog meat trade is proven to facilitate the transmission of deadly notifiable diseases such as rabies and is reliant on illegal operations and a lack of enforcement of existing laws and regulations in place to protect public health, animal welfare, and prevent disease transmission. The dog and cat meat trades in Vietnam continues to operate in the growing face of mounting calls from governments, human and animal health experts, and other key stakeholders to tackle this activity.
According to the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA), the sale of dog and cat meat is also often closely intertwined with wildlife, and there is no way to ensure meat sold from animals in these conditions is safe for human consumption. “We believe it is only a matter of time before the next deadly zoonotic disease emerges”, says Dr Katherine Polak, veterinarian and head of FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia.
In a recent petition to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam – Head of National Steering Committee for COVID-19, ACPA has expressed concerns about the dog and cat meat trades in Vietnam and the threat they pose to public health, in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
ACPA said, Since the COVID-19 outbreak emerged from Wuhan, China in late December 2019, the Chinese authorities have announced that the sale of all terrestrial wildlife for consumption would be prohibited nationwide; in addition, in April, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai have introduced city-wide bans on dog and cat meat consumption, and the national government has publicly proposed that dogs are considered companion animals not livestock, and should be removed from the list of animals considered “food”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already explicitly highlighted the trade in dogs for human consumption as a contributing factor to the spread of rabies, and that 70 percent of global disease-causing pathogens discovered in the past 50 years came from animals. The trade also directly undermines Vietnam’s rabies control strategy and disrupts any attempts at developing herd immunity through mass canine vaccination programs.
Around the world, countries are in a collective struggle against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Governments have been urged by NGOs across the globe to take immediate action to permanently close wildlife markets as the suspected source of COVID-19, and it is clear that countries such as Vietnam have a critical and leadership role to play in that endeavor.
According to ACPA, in 2018, The Hanoi People’s Committee pledged to end the dog meat trade, rightly stating that the brutal and unhygienic trade could tarnish the city’s image as a “civilized and modern capital”. This is absolutely true, and indeed across Asia there are dog/cat meat trade prohibitions in place, including in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore. However, during this unprecedented time, ACPA expects that the Vietnam government to take urgent preventative measures by:
- Immediately and permanently banning the trade, slaughter, and consumption of dogs and cats in Vietnam.
- Issuing a public statement regarding the public health dangers of the slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats.
In order to put a sustainable end to the brutal dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, FOUR PAWS has launched a campaign on an international and national level. “Through educational work and cooperation with the responsible authorities, local communities and the tourism industry, the goal is to work with governments in Southeast Asia to introduce animal protection laws, which bring an end to the capture, slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats,” says Dr Karanvir Kukreja, Project Manager for FOUR PAWS’ Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Campaign. Furthermore, FOUR PAWS supports local animal welfare organizations and communities with humane and sustainable stray animal care programs. FOUR PAWS is also part of the animal welfare coalitions DMFI (Dog Meat Free Indonesia) and ACPA (Asia Canine Protection Alliance), which lobby against the trade in Southeast Asia, as well as the Asia for Animals Coalition, which works to improve the welfare of animals across Asia.
In addition, FOUR PAWS has launched a petition against the dog and cat meat trade, which has already been signed by over 700,000 supporters worldwide since it launched late last year:
The Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) is known as a representative of international animal welfare and conservation organizations from across the globe, including members based in Vietnam and those that work in collaboration with Vietnam’s central and local governments. Currently, ACPA has millions of members in agreement with the petition.