Hoi An in Vietnam gradually stops selling dog and cat meat

A vendor chops up dog meat in Hanoi on Friday, as Vietnamese authorities in the central city of Hoi An announced it would be the country’s first dog and cat meat-free city. AFP

A popular Vietnamese tourist town has pledged to phase out the sale of cat and dog meat, officials said on Friday, a first in a country where some consider animals a delicacy.

It is estimated that five million dogs are eaten each year in Vietnam – the second in the world behind China – and some believe that eating meat can help dispel bad luck.

Authorities in Hoi An, a historic trading port and World Heritage site, have signed an agreement with animal rights group Four Paws International promising to phase out sales and consumption of cat meat and dog.

“We want to help promote animal welfare by eradicating rabies, phasing out the dog and cat meat trade and making the city a prime destination for tourism,” said the vice-mayor of the city, Nguyen The Hung.

Julie Sanders of Four Paws International said it was a watershed moment that could set an example for other places in Vietnam.

A national poll commissioned by the animal rights group this year found that only 6.3% of the 600 Vietnamese surveyed consume the four-legged creatures – with 88% in favor of a ban.

The custom has diminished as incomes rise and the wealthy keep animals as pets, but dog meat remains readily available in Hanoi, with some disregard for animal welfare.

“I don’t think anyone should ban the consumption of dog meat. It’s our culture, ”said Hanoi resident Phan Van Cuong.

In 2018, authorities in Hanoi encouraged people to stop eating dog meat as it damaged the reputation of the capital and there were health issues that could lead to fatal rabies infections.

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