Dr. Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care Southeast Asia for FOUR PAWS

The dog meat trade is big business in Vietnam and threatens the lives of millions of dogs every year, many of them pets. Every day, pets are violently snatched off the streets, from yards, and even while out on a walk with their owners. These unlucky dogs make a brutal journey to slaughterhouses, markets, and restaurants, where a gruesome death awaits them. But times are changing, and the brutality and illegality of pet theft is no longer being tolerated by Vietnamese authorities.

In a landmark case, police in Thanh Hoa Province received a tip off regarding a gang of dog thieves believed to have stolen thousands of dogs since the beginning of the year. On September 15, 2019 the police successfully carried out the largest ever bust of a dog theft ring in Vietnam, resulting in the seizure of 51 dogs. According to the police, the gang carried stun guns and other sharp weapons, and rode motorbikes through residential areas late at night shooting dogs roaming outside. Police arrested a total of 16 suspected gang members and questioned more than 40 susp​ects. The gang not only brutalized neighborhood dogs, but also caused outrage among local people, particularly pet owners.

Following the interception, Police struggled to properly care for the confiscated dogs given their limited capacity for animal care, so the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA), of which FOUR PAWS is a member, stepped in to offer assistanceThere were 13 dogs in need of immediate medical care due to severe wounds sustained during capture. Dogs with painful open wounds were anaesthetised, treated, provided pain medication and antibiotics, and housed in a temporary shelter for ongoing treatment.

The Asia Canine Protection Alliance is an international alliance of four animal protection organizations committed to ending the illegal trade of dogs in Vietnam: FOUR PAWS, Animals Asia, Humane Society International, and Change for Animals Foundation. ACPA is working to build collaborative relationships with the governments throughout Southeast Asia where the dog meat trade is prevalent, and has already secured a moratorium on the trade in dogs between Thailand and Vietnam. 

Following the confiscation, the police publicised the bust throughout the province using local media so that stolen dogs could be reunited with their families. 

Over the course of 2 weeks, all 51 dogs were successful reunited with their owners, who were devastated by their pets’ disappearance.

This bust pets a major precedent as dog theft is rarely treated as a criminal offense in Vietnam unless the canines are valued at more than VND2 million ($86).

“These arrests will hopefully go a long way in deterring future dog theft in Thanh Hoa Province, and potentially throughout all of Vietnam. While the dog meat trade is often defended as ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’, the reality is that there are significant health and societal impacts associated with the trade and these are becoming of ever-growing concern within Vietnam and internationally.”

Earlier in the week, the Food Safety Management Board of Ho Chi Minh City urged locals to stop eating dog meat in an effort to improve Vietnam’s national image with tourists. They also warned the local community of the health risks posed by consuming the unregulated meat. This followed a similar call by the Hanoi People’s Committee last year.

In addition to membership in ACPA, FOUR PAWS also runs a ‘Cats Matter Too program‘ in Central Vietnam with local charities PAWS for Compassion and Vietnam Cat Welfare to improve veterinary training, animal welfare education, and provide free spay/neuter services.

The Inspiring Journey of a Courageous War Dog in a Wheelchair, Returning Home After a Decade of Heroic Service

After a decade of unwavering service on the battlefield, a remarkable and loyal dog, named Max, finally received the heartwarming homecoming he had earned. Max, a genuine hero in every sense, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers in challenging conditions for a decade. He displayed unwavering courage and determination, creating an unbreakable bond with the troops he protected.

Max’s journey took an unexpected turn when he sustained an injury in the line of duty, resulting in a permanent disability that necessitated a wheelchair for mobility. Despite the obstacles he faced, Max’s spirit remained unshaken, and his loyalty to his comrades remained steadfast.

The most heartwarming aspect of Max’s story was when, after his long and dedicated service, he was given the opportunity to return to his homeland. The news of his impending return touched the hearts of millions worldwide. As Max made his journey home, people from every corner of the globe followed his progress and expressed their support for this courageous canine hero.

The moment Max arrived home, it was an emotional and jubilant reunion. Seeing the once battle-hardened dog, now using a wheelchair, welcomed by his loving family and friends, was a testament to the indomitable spirit of these extraordinary animals.

Max’s story is a genuine inspiration, reminding us of the sacrifices and unwavering loyalty of service animals. His transition from the battlefield to the comfort of his homeland moved millions of viewers to tears and admiration. Max’s legacy stands as a powerful symbol of the enduring connection between humans and their devoted

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