More than 2,200 people, both Vietnamese and foreigners, have collectively signed an online petition to raise awareness of pet safety following the alleged poisoning of several dogs and cats in Thao Dien, a popular expat neighborhood in Ho Chi Minh City.
"From June 13 to 14, in the Lang Bao Chi area, four dogs and one cat passed away around the same time with similar symptoms: epilepsy followed by sudden death,” the petition stated.
“We took one of the dogs to the veterinary Sai Gon Vet, where doctor Nguyen Van Nghia diagnosed her with severe poisoning.
"This was no rat poison, this was specifically targeted at cats and dogs.
"This poison can be hazardous to children and adults alike, if ingested it can put people’s lives at risk."
The petition was started on Sunday by Olivier Tognetti and his wife, in collaboration with Laws for Paws Vietnam – a canine welfare organization in Vietnam, after the couple’s dog, Peanut, died on Sunday.
According to Tognetti, an expatriate who has lived in Thao Dien for the past two years, his dog started to vomit a few hours after eating something on the street during a walk on Sunday morning.
Tognetti and his wife immediately brought Peanut to a local vet, believing the dog had been poisoned after hearing that a friend’s dog was also poisoned during the night and passed away.
Peanut died within a few hours of arriving at the vet.
|A photo of Peanut provided by Olivier Tognetti|
“During the time we were at the clinic, we learned that our dog was the fourth to die over the weekend, along with two cats,” he explained to Tuoi Tre News during a phone call on Wednesday.
Tongetti also explained that a similar incident happened in the neighborhood a few years back.
“Around 12 dogs were poisoned in their house at the time, and I thought it was thieves who wanted to kill the dogs so that they could break into the houses," he recounted.
"This time, though, it didn’t happen inside houses, it happened on the street."
Tognetti emphasized his concerns about safety for both pets and children who usually play on the local streets.
“What if a kid picks up something like that? That would be very awful!” Tognetti said, mentioning news about a four-year-old child being killed after eating dog poison that looked similar to a lollipop in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong in April.
He said he reported the incident to the local police and is waiting for a medical report of his dog’s death before taking further action.
“Through the petition, I want to show that there’s not just one person living in Thao Dien who worries about this, but that there are many people who care,” Tongetti said.
“This is something happening at many other places in Vietnam, not only in Thao Dien.
"I’m happy that many Vietnamese people have joined to sign the petition, because this is not just a matter of raising foreigners’ voices, but raising people’s voices.”