For the past seven years, Mr. Hung has been in the dog meat business in Viet Nam. He estimates that in that time, he has bought, sold and slaughtered as many as 20,000 dogs. Every couple of months, dog meat traders delivered around 50 puppies to Hung’s facility, where they were kept in filthy raised cages without veterinary care and fattened up to reach a suitable slaughter weight.

But killing animals for a living weighed heavily on Mr. Hung’s conscience. “They came to me as happy little puppies so full of life,” he said, “but soon became traumatized and afraid. It just broke my heart in the end.”

Forty-four dogs were saved when Mr. Hung decided to shut down his dog meat facility.
Minh le Chau Doan/AP Images for HSI

Last year, Humane Society International’s Models for Change program had helped another trader in Thai Nguyen close a dog meat slaughterhouse and restaurant. The closure inspired Mr. Hung to take action. He contacted the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry and asked for help rehoming his dogs. The university asked us to provide expertise and resources to support the rescue. “I was relieved to know there was a way for me to start my life over,” Hung said.

Forty-four dogs—including 19 very young puppies—now have happy lives ahead of them.

A sick dog is in an isolation area in Cay Xanh village, Quyet Thang commune, Thai Nguyen province, Vietnam where dog meat is a popular dish. This dog has been sick for few days and has been injected with antibiotics. The owner has been treating sick dogs by himself to save money.
Minh le Chau Doan/AP Images for HSI

Our rescue team transported the animals to a custom-made shelter at Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, where they are receiving veterinary care and rehabilitation, as well as rabies vaccines, to prepare them for adoption.

Our team also worked with Hung to plan his new business: An agricultural store for local community crop farming. “I’m excited for my new business and to know that all my dogs will have the happy life they deserve with families who will look after them,” he said.

We brought our Models for Change program to Viet Nam after successfully operating in South Korea since 2015, closing down 18 dog meat farms, and helping farmers find other ways of making a living.

The dog meat trade also poses a risk to public health, as it enables the deadly rabies virus to spread. Rabies kills more than 70 people in Viet Nam each year, according to the World Health Organization, with most cases caused by dog bites and verified cases linked to dog meat. The dog meat trade involves the mass movement and slaughter of dogs of unknown disease or vaccination status and so jeopardizes efforts to control the spread of rabies.

In the humane world we’re trying to build, there is no place for the cruelty inherent in the dog meat trade. It’s nothing less than a triumph that our Models for Change program is demonstrating that ending the dog meat trade can be good for everyone involved, human and animal.

Follow Kitty Block @HSUSKittyBlock.