The head of the Ho Chi Minh City animal health department has refuted a circulating rumor that they had proposed impounded stray dogs be used as food for lions kept at the city’s zoo.
Phan Xuan Thao, chief of the city's Department of Animal Health, affirmed on Friday that the unit had never asked the municipal People’s Committee for permission to sell the confiscated stray dogs to the Saigon Botanical Garden and Zoo as food for its lions.
All of the stray or unattended canines wandering the streets are kept in captivity for 72 hours so that their owners can come and take them home in observance of a recently issued policy.
Denied dogs will be put to sleep or be taken to institutions as research subjects.
The policy stipulates that dogs be kept on a leash or muzzle in public places and be impounded if the dogs escape or are found strolling along the streets untended.
Several newswires published articles that the municipal animal health department had proposed in writing the sale of unclaimed dogs to the zoo, where they would be fed alive to the hungry lions, sparking fury among animal lovers over the past few days.
The department head reported the unit was holding a small number of untended dogs, with only four being kept temporarily at its animal quarantine and outbreak prevention stations.
Meanwhile, Pham Van Tan, director of the Saigon Botanical Garden and Zoo, confirmed living animals such as dogs cannot be used as prey for lions and tigers kept at the facility, which is condemned as an inhumane, ghastly act.
The zoo management had also never mooted the use of dogs or any other animals as feed for its predatory animals.
Food for predators kept at the zoological reserve is processed meat as it has always been, Tan added.