Residents in Vietnam’s capital have been told to stop eating dog meat because it hurts the city’s image and risks spreading rabies.
Hanoi Vice Mayor Nguyen Van Suu said in a message on the city’s website that slaughtering and consuming dog and cat meat are disturbing to foreigners and “negatively impact the image of a civilised and modern capital.”
He said it was a matter of preserving Hanoi’s reputation as a “civilised and modern capital” among foreigners.
For many Vietnamese, dog meat is a delicacy that is thought to increase stamina.
In a statement, Mr Suu said the practice of killing the animals is often cruel and the city government hopes it can be gradually phased out.
Mr Suu instructed local governments to raise awareness of the risk of rabies when raising dog and cat meat.
“The trading, killing and use of dog and cat meat has brought on a negative reaction from tourists and expatriates living in Hanoi,” he said.
The move is part of a national program to stamp out rabies by 2021.
Three people have died from rabies in Hanoi since the beginning of 2018, while two others were confirmed to be infected with the disease, official figures show.
However, Nguyen Thi Minh, who has run a dog meat restaurant in Hanoi for more than 20 years, said there are no risks of rabies because her restaurant selects healthy dogs and the meat is properly cooked.
“People eat dog meat and there’s no problem,” she told AAP. “I serve customers from South Korea, the United States and other countries.”
There are more than 493,000 dogs and cats in Hanoi, according to local reports, with about 1000 stores openly selling the animal meat.