While I was in Vietnam, a neighbour’s dog was killed after being hit by a motorcycle. It was a hit-and-run: the motorcyclist just sped away. It happened so quickly, I don’t think the dog’s owners even got a license plate number. Even if they did, I don’t know if it would have made a difference: I’m not exactly sure what the laws regarding animal rights are in Vietnam (if any). Perhaps if any litigation occurred, it might be classified under “property.”
Could this have been prevented? You might wonder why the dog wasn’t being supervised, or at least put on a leash. It’s just not common practice in Vietnam. In the same way you might let your cat wander the neighbourhood, both dogs and cats are left free to roam. There are some wild cats and dogs that wander the streets, too. They walk by the roadsides, looking for scraps to eat.
Pets aren’t always taken care of the way they are in Canada – that’s just how it is. Even at my uncle, who owns a cat (that would be New Orangey, see Sad Tale of Kitty), doesn’t take care of it the way we might in Canada. The cat is free to wander the neighbourhood and isn’t given a food bowl – it eats food scraps left under restaurant tables, or in our kitchen at home.
As far as I’ve seen, there aren’t any vets around (I know they’re somewhere, they just don’t seem well-advertised and are difficult to find). There’s no pet food sold at the major supermarkets either, at least from what I’m aware of – again, the animals can eat scraps from dinner, or look for something on the streets.
Why the lack of animal rights?
I heard a story of a rich lady who lived nearby. She owned a dog and would feed it expensive cuts of meat (not dog food, meat). That would already be pretty expensive in Canada, so who knows how she could have afforded that in Vietnam? When beggars went to her house, asking for food, she would refuse them. My cousin was describing the situation like a big joke. How could someone choose to feed a dog over a person?
I guess the mentality is: if there are so many people around you who are poor or starving, how can you afford to care 100% for a pet? (Oh, PETA would have a heart attack). At the same time, Vietnam’s pet industry is growing. Dogs are seen as symbols of wealth and status, and the demand for imported pet products continues to increase. Even discussions on owning a pet in Vietnam is growing: check out these blogs, Pet Industry in Vietnam and Vietnam Pets, on the challenges faced by pet owners in Vietnam.
Don’t get me wrong – I love animals. But should their needs take precedence over people? Your thoughts?