Second article from a column written by Wayne Capriotti on ‘owning a pet in Vietnam’ published in the Oi Vietnam magazine
Becoming a pet owner in Vietnam, especially a first-time owner, besides bringing joy into your home may also bring hardship, if you are not acutely aware of the issues of pet ownership in Vietnam. It is relatively cheap to financially support a cat or dog in Vietnam, however, the real problems for both new and experienced pet owners are the unique and somewhat dangerous daily situations that confront pet owners and their pets. From the threat of dog/cat-napping, from munching on grass sprayed with rat poison in public areas without warnings, to the extreme heat and humidity creating constant parasite problems, to projectiles thrown at your dog for ‘kicks’ and other abuse from neighbours that just seem to hate dogs and cats, to the lack of quality pet care products and veterinary services, as you see, the list of concerns becomes quite extensive.
First, a few items to consider before bringing a pet into your home. Consider the security of inside and outside your home, including the neighbourhood? Is your house adequately ventilated from the extremes of heat and humidity if get a long haired western style of dog or cat? Who will be home with the pet during the day, if you work? Separation anxiety is a big problem. Do you have a housekeeper / babysitter that is ‘dog friendly’? If you consider a small dog, do you have children? Small dogs and children can be lethal, unsupervised.
So, if you have given the idea of owning a pet considerable thought with family or spouse, there are a few options available. You can either buy from a local, reputable dog / cat breeder, adopt a rescue pet from a animal shelter, or consider a foster dog or cat.
People usually buy a dog or cat because they want a specific breed. For a dog, it is best to buy locally from members of the Vietnam Kennel Association (vka.vn). They breed their dogs in Vietnam and can provide documentation of the purity and health of the breed. Cautions: do not buy dogs from street vendors, no matter how cute. Avoid the pet shop area in the Lê Hong Phong Street, District 10 (300 block). From the street to these shops all of these pets are sickly and might die soon. However, there are good home breeders found through friends or family, look around and do your research. And, never buy a dog without a proper ‘health passport’ that records vital vaccinations complete with times, dates, labels (notable brands from Merial, Vibrac and Bayer) and the signatures of Veterinarians.
Adopting a rescue pet is one of the most unselfish acts in becoming a pet owner. Especially in Vietnam were some dogs and cats experience all types of cruelty and abandoned regularly. A warning, if you are a first time pet owner, a rescue dog or cat may have many behavioural and medical problems. They need a stable period of adjustment in their new home with constant supervision and some might require special care.
You will be briefed on the vaccinations and medicines received. There are fees to pay, including the price of these medicines, vaccinations, and food. Before making a commitment, visit the rescue a few times, make introductions and observe their behaviour. In Saigon, there are a few organizations to contact to find a rescue Dog or Cat. ARC Vietnam (arcpets.com), YDV (yeudongvat.org), ALC Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Vietnam Animal Cruelty ( vietnamanimalscruelty.com). A few of these organizations you arrange for a ‘foster’ pet.
There are assumptions made that bringing in a foster cat or dog into your home is like a ‘rent-a-pet’. Not quite true. A foster pet is a rescue dog / cat that cannot stay in an animal shelter due to lack of space or requiring special needs. It is short term homing arrangement, where the goal is to ‘rehome’ the pet into a permanent ‘forever-home’. If you do take a foster home and have other pets, slowly introduce the foster and arrange their own room or space for somewhere to hide or stay if they feel intimated. But the best part is that sometimes foster ‘pet-parents’ become smitten with their new four-legged friend and make them part of the family, and that is a very happy ending for both the foster and the pet owner. If you are interested in caring for a foster dog or cat contact any of the animal shelters previously mentioned.
Source: First published in the August, 2015 Issue of Oi Vietnam magazine.