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​Vietnamese TV channel faces backlash over dog meat episode

Thursday, February 01, 2018, 14:28 GMT+7

A television channel targeting children in Vietnam has been hit by a storm of criticism from animal lovers after airing an episode introducing dog meat as a traditional Vietnamese dish.

The controversial episode broadcast on Tuesday night during the “Viet Nam dat nuoc toi yeu” (Vietnam, my loving country) program on HTV3, a children and family channel run by Ho Chi Minh City Television.

The program explores Vietnamese culture and lifestyle through the perspective of foreigners living in the country.

Tuesday’s episode followed South Korean host Kim Kwang-sik as he joined two Vietnamese friends for dog meat in neighborhoods famous for the dish in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City.

“Vietnamese people often eat dog meat on rainy days. This enticing and affordable cuisine has long become a familiar sight on local dining tables,” the episode’s narrator said.

The hosts enjoyed a meal of grilled dog meat and Vietnamese rice wine while explaining the nutritious value of the dish and the differences between South Korea and Vietnam when it comes to preparing dog meat.

“Dog meat is rich in protein, so South Koreans often eat it during the summer to replenish their energy in the hot weather,” the South Korean host told his friends in Vietnamese.

Episode 16 of the ‘Viet Nam dat nuoc toi yeu’ program aired on HTV3 channel on January 30, 2018, in which the hosts enjoy dog meat at a restaurant in District 8, Ho Chi Minh City. Clip: HTV3

Viewers quickly took to social media to lambast the television channel for advocating for the consumption of dog meat, the majority of which is sourced from stolen dogs raised as pets in local families.

“Dogs are friends, not food” could be seen in a screenshot of a comment left on HTV3’s official Facebook page and posted to a group for dog lovers.

“How can they be laughing while feasting upon other people’s pets? They are even worse than animals," another commented.

HTV3 has not issued a public apology for the episode, though they have reportedly apologized to individuals who have messaged them on Facebook and pledged to remove the controversial content from future broadcasts, according to screen grabs shared across social media.

Three dog thieves are arrested in Vietnam in 2013. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Three dog thieves were arrested in Vietnam in 2013. Photo: Tuoi Tre

An estimated five million dogs are slaughtered for food every year, many of which are stolen family pets and illegally-sourced dogs from neighboring countries, according to statistics by the Asia Canine Protection Association.

Violence to the point of brutality against dog thieves is not uncommon in Vietnam and animal rights activists have been calling for an end to dog eating, though their efforts have yet to produce noticeable results and the issue remains a controversial topic in Vietnam.

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