Hanoi/Vienna, 25 January 2024 – Half a year since FOUR PAWS joined the Vietnam One Health Partnership for Zoonoses Control (OHP), the Companion Animals Technical Working Group, in which FOUR PAWS is the permanent international development partner, held its first event today in Hanoi, Vietnam. The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Director of the Vietnamese Department of Livestock Production and FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation. Besides presentations from the OHP and partners, Dr Bengthay Tep, representing Cambodia’s General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, presented, and discussed Siem Reap’s programme to end the dog meat trade, including their reasons for doing so and the benefits of this decision. The Terms of Reference for the working group were discussed and will be revised based on the comments of the OHP members, as well as identification of priority actions for the group’s members over the coming year. Some members recommended that the working group explore potential pilot areas in Vietnam for projects to end the dog and cat meat trade.
FOUR PAWS calls for an end to the capture, slaughter and consumption of dogs and cats.
Dr Karanvir Kukreja, Head of Companion Animals Campaigns Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS says: “We are grateful to the Vietnamese Government for agreeing to form and start the Companion Animals Technical Working Group with FOUR PAWS. We look forward to working together with our stakeholders to use our collective expertise to tackle some of the urgent issues concerning companion animal diseases within the One Health Framework. This includes humane population management and the addressing practices of the dog and cat meat trade, to make Vietnam a safer place, for humans and animals alike and to minimise the risk of zoonotic diseases. We are also particularly grateful for the presentation and comments from the Cambodian representative, that demonstrated reasons for ending the trade in Siem Reap, including health concerns, and the benefits of this decision.”
The concept of One Health was first implemented in Vietnam in 2003 under Partnership on Avian and Human Influenza. It was renamed to the OHP in 2016 and comprises of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and more than 30 Vietnamese and international organisations that have come together to form a strong collaboration to minimise the risks of zoonoses in the country.
"This will be a forum for companion animal health and welfare stakeholders, including diverse economic sectors, to discuss and promote the implementation of activities to reduce physical and mental health risks from interactions with companion animals, including the dog and cat meat trade, and promote healthy interactions between humans and companion animals, through training, education, and communication about responsible pet ownership"
Pham Kim Dang, Deputy Director of the Department of Livestock Production
"We should consider our neighbours, like South Korea and Siem Reap in Cambodia, who have committed to end the dog meat trade through legislative means. There is no reason why Vietnam should not follow suit and learn from international advances" said Mr. Vu Thanh Liem, Deputy Director of International Cooperation Department, MARD, Head of OHP Secretariat.
The Vietnam One Health Partnership for Zoonoses Control was launched in the first phase from 2016-2020, with a second phase running from 2021-2025. The partnership reflects Vietnam’s support of commitment of the One Health approach. The partnership brings together national and international government and nongovernmental stakeholders under the leadership of the Vietnamese government, with seven technical working groups focussing on specific aspects.
FOUR PAWS has been working in Vietnam since 2019 to address the risks of the dog and cat meat trade. Every year, an estimated ten million dogs and cats are captured, transported, and slaughtered for their meat in Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. The majority of these animals are stolen pets or community and stray animals taken from the streets to supply the trade. The sheer scale of the trade and the suffering involved makes it one of the most severe companion animal welfare issues in Asia, if not the world. In addition, there are severe health implications, with links between the dog and cat meat trade and rabies, as well as other diseases. More details are available in a FOUR PAWS report available here.
A FOUR PAWS survey conducted in early 2021 across Vietnam found that the majority of Vietnamese want their government to take action, with a total of 91% saying the trade should be banned or discouraged. When asked if they would support a ban on the dog and cat meat trade, 88% of respondents said that they would be in favour of such a measure. In addition, respondents were asked if they felt consumption of dog and cat meat was part of Vietnamese culture, with the resounding answer being no, with 95% indicating that this was not part of their culture.
Furthermore, FOUR PAWS supports local animal welfare organisations and communities with humane and sustainable stray animal care programmes. FOUR PAWS is also a member of several animal welfare coalitions: Dog Meat Free Indonesia, the Asia Canine Protection Alliance and the Cats Matter Too coalition, which lobby against the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, as well as the Asia for Animals coalition, which works to improve the welfare of all animals across Asia.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org