FOUR PAWS new report reveals horrors of illegal trafficking of dog and cat meat 


HA TINH / BOSTON - JUNE 26, 2024 – A recent undercover investigation reveals the crucial involvement a single road has in the illegal dog and cat meat trade in Vietnam. Commissioned by global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, the new report entitled, Highway to Hell, reveals the horror of the capture, transport, and killing of dogs and cat for their meat.

FOUR PAWS estimates that five million dogs and one million cats per year are killed for the trade in Vietnam. Specifically, the new report highlights the horrors of National Highway QL 1A, which leads from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to the capitol of Hanoi in the north via to the province of Ha Tinh. Dubbed the “hub of horror”, this area was found to be a bottleneck for the distribution of stolen pets and snatched strays: an industry that violates transport laws and jeopardizes public health. In light of this report, FOUR PAWS calls yet again for a nationwide ban on the cruel trade of dogs and cats for their meat.

In November and December of 2022, FOUR PAWS conducted a covert investigation to expose the illegal trafficking of dogs and cats through the Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh. It concluded that not only is most of the transportation illegal, but that there are also massive shortcomings with regards to the execution of highway checkpoint inspection laws.

“What we have seen in this investigation can hardly be surpassed in terms of cruelty towards companion animals. Dogs and cats are crammed into tiny cages and transported hundreds of kilometers on trucks and motorbikes, only to be brutally driven out with iron tongs. They are beaten to death with sticks, electrocuted or have their throats cut once they reach their destination. The animals are often sold directly by the roadside to their torturers, who supply nearby restaurants, and many animals are transported illegally, in the luggage compartment of public buses and without the knowledge of the passengers."

Rebecca Dharmpaul, Campaigner on the Dog and Cat Meat Trade at FOUR PAWS

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Although the dog and cat meat trade is still legal in Vietnam, transporting dogs and cat for their meat is another story yet monitoring and regulating are challenges authorities face. Only animal trucks are required to stop at official checkpoints to have their documents checked. Therefore, traders use public transport such as buses to avoid potential detection by officials, as they have no authority to stop them, unless police have prior knowledge of them transporting animals.

“The report documents one case where over 150 cats and dogs were crammed into the luggage hold of a public bus, while passengers unknowingly awaited their arrival. Eventually, two thirds of the animals were found dead, most likely suffocated next to the passengers’ belongings. The remaining animals had to be euthanized due to their bad health conditions. Often the trade is not even hidden, as investigators documented cases where animal trucks were not stopped or subject to any inspections at any of the checkpoints, which by law is mandatory. There is no unified national law, and enforcement of existing laws is limited, such as having basic documents with proof of vaccinations to prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies.” says Dharmpaul.

The uncontrolled mass transport of unvaccinated animals in stressful and unhygienic conditions also increases the risk of zoonosis, as infected dogs and cats may transmit their diseases during transport to other animals, the traders, and the consumers.

“The illegal trafficking of cats and dogs must be tackled by the relevant transport authorities and the Ministry of Rural Development and Agriculture (MARD), as current transport legislation is not effectively enforced” Dharmpaul concluded. “Transporting animals thousands of kilometers across Vietnam is not only an ordeal for the animals but can also have dramatic consequences for public health. The theft of pets, a common practice of traders, is both a traumatic experience for the animals and their owners. Only a nationwide ban on the trade of dogs and cats for their meat will prevent millions of pets and strays from this cruelty.”

Each year, more than six million dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered in Vietnam. A FOUR PAWS survey conducted in early 2021 across Vietnam found that the vast majority of Vietnamese want their government to take action. 91% of participants responded saying that 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 favor 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.  

FOUR PAWS has been working in Vietnam since 2019 to address the risks of the dog and cat meat trade. 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 conditions ripe for disease emergence. Most recently, FOUR PAWS undertook its “Road to compassion” roadshow in three major Vietnamese cities to generate awareness in parallel with the release of the Highway to Hell report. More information on the FOUR PAWS campaign to end the dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, can be found here: https://dogcatmeat.fourpawsusa.org/

 Highway to Hell Report

Highway to Hell Report

The illegal trade of dogs and cats through Ha Tinh province, Vietnam

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization 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 organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects 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.fourpawsusa.org 

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