“I frequently meet dogs running wild in public, unmuzzled and without a leash. My friends have even been attacked, which terrified us all.”
That’s the story of a person living in Hanoi.
According to the Department of Veterinary Medicine under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam has between 400,000-500,000 people attacked by pets like cats and dogs every year, resulting in VND300 billion ($12,790) in medical costs, such as rabies vaccinations.
Although the law mandates all pet owners must have their pets leashed on the street, it is insufficiently enforced.
The Vietnamese are not the only ones traumatized by dogs running wild. Many foreigners have the same fears.
One such foreigner is reader Boorindung. Here he shares his story:
“My old company was situated in a narrow alley in HCMC, near several embankment projects. On many mornings, employees could not walk normally to the work place, but had to hop around to avoid heaps of dog dung spread all over the streets. Sometimes, when our foreign business partners visited the office, they were visibly distressed and confused, trying to navigate through the dung minefield. Our cleaners could only clean up a few times a day, but the mess always came back.
All of the neighborhood keep dogs as pets, without ever reining them in their homes. The animals freely roamed the streets and left excrement everywhere. We tried to ask the neighbourhood manager to assist with putting up signs and requesting every household to manage their pets, but it was all in vain. Animals do not read, and if pet owners do not actively manage their pets, the situation will not improve. After a year, we decided to leave the old office, a decision which significantly improved our well-being. Nevertheless, the memory still traumatizes me every time I think about it.”
Vietnamese reader Amyhoung also expressed her concerns:
“I have a South Korean friend who has lived in Vietnam for 25 years. Every Saturday, he takes a walk around Hanoi’s West Lake even though he lives quite far away. One day, I met him there, walking around with a small bag behind his back and a yard-long bamboo stick in his hand. When I asked about it, he casually said that the stick was to help protect himself against the dogs running around. He had been attacked a few times before, and as his last resort, the stick felt like a necessary measure. I’m sharing this story, hoping that pet owners will take more active efforts to protect society. Dogs should be muzzled and leashed in public. Pet owners should bring tools to clean up their pets’ excrement. These simple measures will not only bring a safe and clean environment but also brighten Vietnam’s image among international friends.”