The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Must End!

Catherine Besch
5 min readSep 30, 2021


The dog and cat meat trade is responsible for the unnecessarily murders of 5 million dogs and 1 million cats every single year in Vietnam. At Vietnam Animal Aid and Rescue, we are appalled by this figure and have seen the horrors of this trade for more than 8 years. We have been to the dog meat restaurants, seen the dog trucks, stopped cat and dog catchers from taking animals to their slaughter. This trade needs to stop!

Is that what you needed to hear?

Are we the heroes you have been looking for?

Are we the White Saviors you crave, here to save doggies from Asians?

Is this the mantra that you needed us to repeat so that you can call the Vietnamese savages and so we can get you to sign petitions that do nothing and you can protest outside embassies and cry in the halls of Congress to stop this evil trade?

Now will you support our work helping animals in Vietnam, or will you ignore us because we have not hijacked dog meat trucks and hoarded dogs into packed shelters? Will we be dismissed because we have not written emotional posts with gory pictures at dog restaurants that make you want to throw your money at people who save dogs and mention nothing at all about the 2.8 trillion other land and sea animals consumed yearly?

There is no doubt that the dog and cat meat trade are awful on so many levels. The PTSD that I personally suffer from in this job from what I have seen will stay with me for the rest of my life. The day after the lead picture in this article was taken at the police station while I was saving a dog from being someone’s lunch, I committed myself to a mental hospital in Bangkok for a suicidal depression. The trauma of the dog meat industry in my life is not something I have been lucky to escape from unscathed. We have dog catchers in the neighborhood of our shelter constantly, cat catchers around, too. Two blocks up from my favorite vegan restaurant is a dog meat restaurant I pass on my way to get dinner. However, in nine years in Vietnam I have seen exactly ONE dog meat truck and thousands of pig, chicken, duck, and cow trucks. Dogs and cats are 0.7% of the land animals brutally killed in Vietnam. Suffering is everywhere and predominantly in the species you refuse to even see or speak up for.

What has harmed me more than the trauma of seeing abuse and slaughter is the reactions of people who would do the exact same thing that is done to dogs in Vietnam to a cow, pig, or chicken in the UK, US, Australia and elsewhere and claim some sort of moral superiority over Vietnam. I had someone tell me this weekend that they cannot understand how I can live “in that culture” of animal abuse. I have to remind people that I can walk into a Sainsburys, Tesco, or Lidl in Scotland with hundreds of corpses lined up bought by friendly white people who are no different- most of whom would cry about dog meat while bacon grease runs down their chins.

While there are petitions and campaigns running all over our newsfeeds to end the dog meat trade, there is no talk about what to do with the dogs that will no longer be killed. I have yet to see any talk of veterinary training projects to get the countries with dog meat which have horrendous standards of veterinary education up to speed on sterilization surgery and vaccination protocol. Vietnamese vets have so little training in vet school on sedation that most do not think it is a safe way to operate, never mind the fact that none seem to grasp the idea of sterile gloves or instruments either. If 5 million dogs a year are not being eaten and are instead out on the streets, you can bet that 5 million will turn into a hundred million in only a few years. Those animals will not have contact with vets with any training on basic surgeries, diagnostics and lab work, and no understanding of vaccination protocols to prevent rabies, distemper, parvo, etc. running rampant. Have you every seen Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumors? This is sexually transmitted cancer is already rampant in Vietnam and only a few clinics even have access to the chemotherapy required to treat it. You want to ban the dog meat trade and say nothing of vet training and capacity building? Then enjoy watching dogs being culled with strychnine and shotguns in Vietnam because that is the next step. Without massive investment in veterinary industries throughout Asia, you can bet the dog meat trade is the least of a dog’s concern there when a ban actually happens.

While we can all agree that there is no way to regulate the dog meat trade to make it humane enough to be acceptable, we have to acknowledge that this applies to all animals regardless of whether the RSPCA put their stamp of approval on the plastic-wrapped corpse of someone who did not want to die. The culture of welfarism is sold so well in the West that people still believe that there is actually some value to regulating someone’s murder for something no one needs while banning other murders for the exact same purpose. Ban dog meat, regulate pig meat. Forbid killing some and happily approve the killing of others.

What I have seen in all these years in rescue in Vietnam, travels to more than 70 countries, visits to sanctuaries and slaughterhouses around the world is that humans are cruel and abusive to animals and each other and they are equally kind and loving regardless of the color of their skin or the language they speak. MOST humans kill animals and MOST think it is necessary and normal. Your country’s laws have not prevented animals from being murdered but have made it more socially acceptable to do so. Vietnam does not have a monopoly on animal abuse and laws will not make much difference here unless some major shifts in the rule of law occur rather quickly.

When we save blind chickens or sing the praises of our “princess” rescued sow, Lola, we do so to remind people that every life matters and all deserve our protection. We will not be silent about some species to keep you comfortable and complacent with the suffering you cause in your own consumption habits. We are not trying to alienate people, but plant seeds. I am not trying to anger you, but motivate you. There is no way to make change for the animals if we are not open and honest about their suffering and how each and every one of us has the ability to stop it in any country we live in.

For the record, VAAR is firmly against the dog meat trade, the cat meat trade, the fishing industry, the bear bile market, the killing of rhinos, the leather industry, mice used in research, the murder of 60 million chickens every year, and equestrian sports. We are against animal exploitation and if you love animals, you should be too.

Please support our work with all animals and be part of the movement to end speciesism in rescue and animal advocacy.

Venmo: @VNanimalaid

Vietnamese donations:

Account name: Tran Tuyet Mai, Account No.: 0400 4638 4034, Bank name: Sacombank- chi nhánh Đà Nẵng.



Catherine Besch

Cat Besch is a ferocious animal activist and pig, chicken, hedgehog, dog, and cat mom who is the founder and director of Vietnam Animal Aid and Rescue-US.