The city government of Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, is urging locals to stop eating dog meat to preserve the city’s reputation and prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies.
Foreign tourists find the slaughter and consumption of pet meat revolting and it “negatively affects the reputation of a progressive and civilized capital,” the Associated Press reported, citing comments from Nguyen Van Suu, the vice-mayor of Hanoi.
In a statement on the city government’s website, the Hanoi People’s Committee urged district authorities to compile and update data and statistics on the number of dogs kept as pets in the city and to tell owners how to prevent diseases like rabies.
In Hanoi, there are about 493,000 dogs and cats, 87% of which are kept for housekeeping purposes while the remaining are bred for trade and food consumption, VN Express reported. There are about 1,000 shops selling dog and cat meat in the city.
The announcement is part of a nation-wide initiative that plans to eliminate rabies from the country by 2021. So far this year, three people have died from rabies in Hanoi, while two others were infected with the disease. Nguyen The Minh, a dog meat vendor, said there were no risks of rabies. She said her restaurant only chooses healthy dogs and cooks them properly.
In early August, the Indonesian government agreed to ban the trade in dog and cat meat to improve its image to foreign tourists. The announcement added pressure on other Asian countries such as China and Vietnam, which consume 20 million and five million dogs per year, respectively.