Dog Meat Popularity in Vietnam Creates Market for Stolen Pets

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Vietnam is experiencing a huge increase in canines being included as family members and companions in homes. Simultaneously, beautiful dogs of the same breeds and mixes sit in cages at dog-slaughter houses in Hanoi waiting to be killed and served as a delicacy on platters in restaurants.   

For many older Vietnamese, dog eating is an essential part of traditional Vietnamese cuisine and can coexist with pet ownership without contradiction, according to an August 4 report in the Bangkok Post. 

There is also no apparent concern for the fact that dogs that end up on the dinner table are traditionally beaten to death.

"We never kill our own dogs for their meat. Here I'm eating in a restaurant so I don't care which dogs they killed or how," Pham Dang Tien, 53, told reporters, as he chewed contentedly on a piece of boiled dog in a packed restaurant.

Dog meat is good for health and virility, Tien believes. He sees no conflict between his monthly dog-meat binges and owning a dog. In fact, he boasts that his family has had a string of beloved pet pooches over the course of 20 years, the Bangkok Post reports.

“Typically, Vietnamese eat dog meat at the end of the lunar month to get rid of bad luck. That's what business people often do", said 30-year-old Hoang Giang, Hanoi restaurant owner and a specialist dog-meat chef. Dog is served in a range of ways--from boiled to barbecued--often with shrimp sauce, rice noodles and fresh herbs, he explained.

In post-war Vietnam, the government strictly controlled ownership of dogs. But as the economy and living standards of Vietnam improve and the popularity of keeping pets in homes rises, more and more young people feel like 16-year-old Nguyen Anh Hong, who told the Post, "I just don't understand how people can eat dogs -- they are lovely pets.”


This love affair with dog meat has an even darker side--“Dog bandits.” A growing underground of thieves, are invading the small towns in rural areas of Vietnam and stealing pets to sell to dog-meat restaurants for around $6 per kilo (2.2 kilos equals 1 lb.)

Because the monetary value is so low, Vietnamese police have little interest in apprehending “dog bandits.”  But, the loss of a beloved pet to slaughter and cooking pot has caused emotions to run high over these incidents.

In June, a man was beaten to death after hundreds of villagers caught him trying to steal a family dog in Nghe An province, the VNExpress news site reported. There was a public outpour of support for the mob.  

“It's not right to beat a man to death but anyone in this situation would do the same," one reader, who lost a pet to the bandits, wrote as a comment on the site, according to the Bangkok Post.

Most of the dogs served in Hoang Giang's restaurant are local breeds raised specifically as food. But in the countryside, these same local mixed-breeds are kept as pets or guard dogs.”It is these, more nondescript, animals which are most vulnerable to the dog bandits…it is hard to know which animals are stolen, and which are farmed,” he says.


Hundreds of people now showcase their dogs as they walk them in Hanoi's Reunification Park every day. There is a range of imported breeds. Currently Chihuahuas and Huskies are particularly popular.

"In Vietnam now, raising pet dogs has become fashionable," said Cu Anh Tu, a 20-year-old university student and dog owner. "The young generation now seems to love animals very much," he added.

. (Author’s note:  We hope that spaying and neutering is prioritized so that Vietnam does not experience the same pet-overpopulation issues that have forced large Chinese cities to limit dogs to one per household to curb rabies, control barking, and stop attacks and health/sanitation issues on the streets.  Read more…  

Hoang Giang, the restaurant owner, predicts, "in the countryside people will continue to see dogs as meat," He told Asian Free Press that his small establishment serves up to seven dogs a day as the end of the lunar month is observed.

Nguyen Bao Sinh, the owner of a luxury kennel in Hanoi which also does grooming and has a pet cemetery, has a different belief. He says Vietnam needs to move away from its traditional love of canine meat and learn from other pet-loving cultures, according to the Post article.

"They (Westerners) love dogs in this life. That viewpoint is very good... We should love dogs here and now in this life. We should not kill them or beat them barbarously," he said."It would be better if the state had a law banning the eating of dog meat," Sinh said.

"However, we should not discriminate or look down upon those eating dog meat," he told AFP, adding that the key was to gradually convince the public to respect and love animals.


In March 2009, the Korean Times, based in South Korea, reported that approximately 9,000 tons of dog meat is served at about 6,500 restaurants across the country annually. (Read more: posted the valiant efforts of activists in China who have diverted truckloads of dogs headed for restaurants and other dog-slaughter locations.

Growing animal activism in China is credited with stopping the 2011 dog-meat festival which has been an annual tradition in Jinhua, since 1389. Up to 10,000 dogs are killed and skinned in the streets of Qianxi township…

And a warm and inspiring reminder of the loyalty of dogs to those who treat them kindly: Stray Dog Runs 1,000 Miles in China to Stay with Cyclists

We need to support their efforts and help bring as much attention as possible to their work, both the agony and the victories.


A January 2011 Opposing Views article, L.A. Shelter Dogs Transported to Canada, Rescue or Ruse?,” discussed the American mania to transport dogs from shelter to shelter, rescue to rescue, and even out of the country to attempt to give the impression the U.S. is becoming “No Kill”.  Many of these transports involve shipping mostly smaller dogs and Pit Bulls to Canada, with no monitoring or follow-up on their ultimate destination. It is important that anyone involved in or condoning this practice is aware of the following:

 Under Canada's Wildlife Act, there is no law against selling and serving canine meat, including dogs, if it is killed and gutted in front of federal inspectors.

In a 2002-2006 on-line poll, 33.72% of responders voted “Yes” to the question, “Should Canadians increase their consumption of dog meat?”

Read more:



(23 sec.) “Eating Dog Meat in Hanoi, Vietnam” (2010) shows only cooked dogs and is in English.


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