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Owners clash with Doan Ngoc Hai as ‘sidewalk captain’ leads stray dog crackdown in Saigon

Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 15:06 GMT+7
Owners clash with Doan Ngoc Hai as ‘sidewalk captain’ leads stray dog crackdown in Saigon
Dog owners react as officials attempt to remove their free-ranging pets from a street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Doan Ngoc Hai, known for his signature ‘sidewalk clearing’ campaign in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, was met with violent protest from local residents as he led a team of officials to catch free-ranging dogs on a downtown street on Tuesday.

Hai, deputy chairman of District 1, has since August 2018 steered a district-wide campaign to remove stray dogs, including pets allowed by their owners to run loose without a leash or muzzle, from the streets of downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

As he led a team of officials to inspect local streets on Tuesday, Hai and his men spotted two free-roaming dogs on Mai Thi Luu Street and attempted to catch the animals.

However, the officials were immediately met with protest from their owners.

Failing to show canine registration papers or vaccination records of their pets, the residents became violent and started throwing furniture and documents out on the street.

Police officers were called to the scene to defuse the situation.

A young man was brought to a nearby police station for questioning for hurling slanders at Hai and the other officials.

Dog owners argue with Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, for removing their free-ranging pets from a local street. Video: Tuoi Tre TV

Dog owners in Vietnam are subject to a fine between VND600,000 (US$26) and VND800,000 ($35) for letting their pets out without a leash or muzzle, according to a 2017 government decree.

If the canines are yet to be given rabies vaccination, the penalty will be raised to VND1.6 million ($69).

Dogs in Ho Chi Minh City that wander off their owners' property will be collected by local authorities and kept at a public vet office in District 3 until they are picked up by their owners.

Doan Ngoc Hai came into media spotlight in January 2017 when he first started his ‘sidewalk reclamation’ effort in District 1, with a series of assertive measures to remove anything that blocked the footways.

A year later, he tendered his resignation from all positions for failing to prevent the sidewalks from being occupied again, but he retracted the letter in May 2018 after reconsideration.

Hai remains deputy chairman of District 1, taking the helm in some of the downtown district’s notable campaigns including a fight against illegal fishing along the iconic Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal and crackdowns on stray dogs.

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