Recent statements by the Hanoi government regarding a ban on the consumption of dog meat have been met by polarized public opinion.

Last month, officials in Hanoi urged citizens in the capital to stop eating dog meat in order to protect Hanoi’s reputation as well as to prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies. Furthermore, officials added that businesses serving dog or cat meat will be eliminated by the end of 2021.

Advocates supporting the consumption of dog meat fear that authorities will build upon a Hanoi ban and impose it nationwide. Fans of dog meat hope that the ban will never take effect, as the demand for dog meat is too high, DW reported. According to a man surnamed Huang, who admits to being a lover of dog meat who has been eating it since he was a child, eating dog meat is a tradition among his friends, one which he thinks is no different from eating chicken or seafood.

Many Vietnamese resort to the same argument: eating dog is essentially the same as eating other types of meat. In addition, they argue, dog meat is deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture and beliefs. For instance, the meat is said to boost male virility and to discard accumulated bad luck if consumed at the end of a month.

Dog meat restaurants are often packed at the end of the month.

On the other hand, authorities are taking a tough line. In September, the largest dog meat market in Ho Chi Minh City was raided, and a large amount of dog meat was confiscated due to its unknown sources. Dogs in Vietnam are often stolen from their owners, who get little help from the police.

Around 5 million dogs are consumed annually in Vietnam, making it the second largest consumer of dog meat in the world behind China.