Delicacy and best friend - a dog's life

2012-08-05 22:30

Hanoi - At a packed Hanoi restaurant, one of Vietnam's growing ranks of proud pooch owners tucks into a traditional delicacy to mark the end of the lunar month - a plate of juicy dog.

Canine meat has long been on the menu in Vietnam. But now a growing love of the four-legged friends means that one man's pet can be another's dog sausage - quite literally as far as dog bandits are concerned.

"We never kill our own dogs for their meat. Here I'm eating in a restaurant so I don't care which dogs they killed or how," Pham Dang Tien, 53, said as he chewed contentedly on a plate of boiled dog.

Dog meat is good for health and virility, believes Tien, who sees no contradiction between these monthly meat binges and owning a dog - his family have had a string of beloved pet pooches over the course of 20 years.

For many older Vietnamese, dogs are an essential part of traditional Vietnamese cuisine that can coexist with pet ownership. Those dogs that end up on the dinner table are traditionally beaten to death.

When times were hard after the Vietnam War, local authorities in big cities strictly limited pet ownership.

But as the popularity of keeping animals at home rises along with the economy and living standards, more young people feel like 16-year-old Nguyen Anh Hong.

"I just don't understand how people can eat dogs - they are lovely pets," she said.

The love affair has a dark side - growing ranks of thieves go from small town to small town in rural areas of Vietnam stealing pets to sell to dog meat restaurants.

Thief beaten

Although the value of the thefts - dog meat fetches around six dollars per kilo - is too low to concern the Vietnamese police, the loss of a treasured pet to the cooking pot means emotions run high.

Dog-theft related mob violence has spiralled over the last few years.

In June, a man was beaten to death after hundreds of villagers caught him red-handed trying to steal a family dog in Nghe An province, the VNExpress news site reported, triggering an outpouring of public support for the mob.

"It's not right to beat a man to death but anyone in this situation would do the same," one reader, who lost a pet to the bandits, wrote on the site.

In Hanoi's Reunification Park, hundreds of people now walk their pet dogs every day, showcasing the range of exotic foreign breeds - Chihuahuas and Huskies are particularly popular - favoured by Hanoi-based pet-owners.

"In Vietnam now, raising pet dogs has become fashionable," said Cu Anh Tu, a 20-year-old university student and dog owner.

"The young generation now seems to love animals very much," he added.

In the countryside, local mongrels are kept as pets or guard dogs. It is these, more nondescript, animals which are most vulnerable to the dog bandits.

Most of the dogs served in Hoang Giang's restaurant are local breeds raised specifically to be eaten - but as local dogs are also kept as pets in the countryside, it is hard to know which animals are stolen, and which are farmed.

Dogs as meat

While exotic pet dogs are found only in cities, "in the countryside people will continue to see dogs as meat," he said.

Typically, Vietnamese "eat dog meat at the end of the lunar month to get rid of bad luck. That's what business people often do", said 30-year-old Giang, a specialist dog meat chef.

As he prepared a plate of canine meat in the kitchen of his busy restaurant, Giang told AFP that his small establishment served up to seven dogs a day at that time of the month - and business is reliably solid.

Dog is served in a range of ways - from boiled to barbecued - often with shrimp sauce, rice noodles and fresh herbs, he said.

For Nguyen Bao Sinh, a luxury kennel owner in Hanoi, Vietnam needs to move away from its traditional love of canine meat and learn from other pet-loving cultures.

"They [Westerners] love dogs in this life. That viewpoint is very good... We should love dogs here and now in this life. We should not kill them or beat them barbarously," he said.

Sinh, who run's Hanoi's only luxury kennel and grooming parlour for pets, said he has seen a rise in the number of pet-mad Vietnamese.

His establishment offers "hotel rooms" for pets whose owners go away on business or holidays - and even has a cemetery for dogs and cats, where hundreds of pets are buried, and monks perform blessings every year.

"It would be better if the state had a law banning the eating of dog meat," Sinh said.

"However, we should not discriminate or look down upon those eating dog meat," he told AFP, adding that the key was to gradually convince the public to respect and love animals.

  • Gerda Malherbe - 2012-08-05 23:13

    Disgusting people, eating a man's best friend and responsible for illegally hunting our rhinos to extinction

      stfaith.esau - 2012-08-06 00:07

      Gerda agree 100%. Only a animal lover will understand!

      philip.keeling.7 - 2012-08-06 06:05

      Its pathetic to see u getting thumbs down for your comment Gerda, just shows what type of people are around. U gotta love Sarels comment, its brilliant!

      arne.verhoef - 2012-08-06 07:16

      You dont see the Hindu's up in arms with us eating their holy animal, the cow, do you?

      DamnTheMan - 2012-08-06 15:25

      Does anyone here eat cow , lamb or pig , actually any meat , then your a real hypocrite ! Won't eat dog , but slaughter that cow I'm hungry , pathetic really. Just because your pet has a name and loved its better than anything you eat. You'd kill a spider or bug with out a thought. Shame , probably religious too. Damn the man. If you re vegan or vegetarian , your not in this group !

  • scheepers - 2012-08-06 05:41

    I recently travelled to China and was served dog, its actually really good.

  • philip.keeling.7 - 2012-08-06 05:58

    When I go there I will ask for 1 sweet and sour Rottweiler with a side of unlucky fried kitten....

  • piet.boerie - 2012-08-06 06:07

    So may idiots not enough doom. If you eat meat you eat meat. Just because its acceptable here and not their do not make such racist remarks. Do yourself a favour go visit an abattoir. I am starting to wonder what the hell is wrong with white South Africans?

      arne.verhoef - 2012-08-06 07:17

      I agree! But ignorance and bias is bliss

      don.quioxte.3 - 2012-08-06 08:03

      Its not the eating of them as such, but the why and the slow beating to death. "It brings out the flavour"

  • jimi.harrison.7 - 2012-08-06 06:10

    I'm against this 100% , but rather that than our rhino. The world is over populated with all these sickly scrawny mongrels.

  • rebecca.robyn - 2012-08-06 06:29

    Was going to ignore the story but glad I read it-very enlightning! The older generation versus the new...I think there's hope in this world yet...but shows one what starvation can do:(

  • Hermann - 2012-08-06 06:36


      arne.verhoef - 2012-08-06 07:18

      Why? Because they eat the flesh of an animal? Hypocrite.

  • sudika.harkhu - 2012-08-06 06:41

    If you are an animal lover you must love all animals and not eat them. Get so many people on high horses professing to love animals while wolfing down the burgers and steaks. Being an animal lover does not constitute loving cats and dogs only.

      edmund.deane.37 - 2012-08-06 07:26

      I love animals.... I love feeding them , petting them , strocking them, even went as far as spending over a thousand rand on stitches for one of them. OH but I also love eating them....

  • don.quioxte.3 - 2012-08-06 07:58

    "Those dogs that end up on the dinner table are traditionally beaten to death." These same superstitious barbarians are responsible for Rhino and abalone poaching.

  • hamish.drake1 - 2012-08-06 08:00

    You are all missing the irony in this article, read it again.

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-08-06 08:26

    It's like stroking your pet chicken on your lap while devouring the contents of that KFC bucket. Says a lot about what your friends can expect from you...

  • ericrinus - 2012-08-06 09:27

    wow.lastnite i dreamt i was saving 5 puppies from a faceless man who wanted to kill them. we escaped from this prison like place, but two of the puppies jumped out of my hands one got lost and the other got caught by the man. i managd to escape him and give the dogs to ppl who love dogs,thats when the man gave up chasing us bcos finally these pups had a home where he couldnt get to them.

  • hvanvuuren - 2012-08-06 10:59

    If it moves, these guys eats it ... hope the aliens invade soon, that might prove to be a valuable food source to the guys !!!1

  • natasha.wentink - 2012-08-06 13:35

    Disgusting lunatics raping and pillaging wildlife - how uneducated to say "i love my dog but I don't care where the one I'm eating came from"

  • maximus.preliator - 2012-08-07 02:39

    what the F@#k! is wrong with this people

  • candice.ridgway - 2012-08-07 10:40

    i want to go home and hug my dogs now after reading this :(

  • laura.baasch - 2012-08-08 16:15

    let's not make this a race thing now okay.... cause it turns out that the Swiss are chomping down on pets left right and center. Swiss culinary traditions include puppies and kittens. Private consumption of cat and dog is permissible. Swiss animal welfare groups say it is hard to estimate how many pets are eaten in Switzerland every year.

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