Hippocratic Pet Oath in Vietnam?

9 03 2011
Saigon Pet Vietnam

Saigon Pet Vietnam- Best Veterinarian Clinic in Vietnam


Do veterinarians take the hippocratic oath? No. But they do take something called the Veterinarian Oath. Veterinarians like Dr. Nghia of Saigon Pet Clinic have taken the following oath: I solemnly swear that I will use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society.I will strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge.I will practise my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.I will strive continuously to improve my professional knowledge and competence and to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards for myself and the profession.”


People, please listen up… there are times when a veterinarian cannot save the life of your beloved pet. No matter how much they try, how much they live up to the “Veterinarian’s Oath”, veterinarians often lose their patients. It is part of the natural life death dance. And the fact that veterinarians are mortal… human. The vets I know and have worked with, the ones that truly love animals like Dr. Nghia, a veterinarian in Saigon, are heartbroken after trying everything to save them. Truly devastated.  They empathize with their patients and often cry alongside the pet owners.


What’s often unfair is when a patient blames a veterinarian for the loss of their pet, as if the veterinarian purposely ignored “The Oath”. There was a recent case where a pet owner placed full blame on the veterinarian even though the dog had cancer for years and had a visible tumor growth on its side. When asked, “why did you not bring your dog in sooner?”, the answer, “I still wanted to breed the dog!” Where is the responsible pet accountability here? How about being more responsible about the health of your dog or cat? If you take your dog in with Stage 5 cancer, please don’t expect a miracle. Wake up people, if you take better care of your pets and don’t wait until your pet’s on death’s doorstep to seek help then please remember you may be pointing one finger at the vet, but there’s three fingers pointing back at you!


What I find appalling here in Vietnam is that some pet owners actually demand a large settlement if a veterinarian cannot save the life of their dog or cat. Imagine storming into your vet’s clinic back home with all your family members (minus the pitchforks) and demanding the clinic pay, “or the vet will pay”… seriously??? While I am on the subject of wrongful behavior, these same people demanding a big settlement were the same people bargaining down the dog’s operation as if they were haggling over a bag of mangosteens at Ben Tanh market. So let me get this straight, your dog is not worth the operation but becomes priceless and requires some kind of “wrongful death payment” upon its passing? Incredible!


I know Vietnam is still a very young pet culture. The concept of veterinarians is as strange as Heinz ketchup next to the nuoc mam sauce. But, good veterinarians are hard to find in Vietnam. Especially ones trained in small companion animal medicine. So don’t be surprised that a visit to a a top qualified vet in Saigon or Hanoi will cost more than those dingy, sketchy “thầy thuốc thú y” you see next to a pho stand or xe-om repair shop.


All veterinarians are human, they cannot always save the life of your beloved pet. James Herriot said it best, “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child they are, that we will be kind and take care of their needs.. (They) are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.” Or ignorance!


Meet Dr. Nghia

22 02 2011

Dr. Nghia Bac S Y Cho/ Meo

“When a man has pity on all living creatures then only is he noble.” – Buddha



Americans now spend $41 billion a year on their pets—more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world. That’s double the amount shelled out on pets a decade ago, with annual spending expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research company based in Rockville, Md. Although Vietnam is nowhere near that type of stratospheric spending, Vietnamese have begun to spend more of their disposable income on pets. As incomes climb and the country continues to develop and build a modern cityscape, more and more Vietnamese are welcoming four-legged friends into their family circle. The demand for pets like dogs and cats has increased significantly in the last ten years. No longer just bought as food or means of protection, these domesticated animals are becoming a status of wealth, a symbol of prosperity. Veterinarians like Dr. Nguyen Van Nghia has seen a significant growth in pet ownership since his return from obtaining his PhD and Post Doctorate at the Bristol University School of Veterinary Science. Vietnam Pets spent a dog’s day afternoon with Dr. Nghia, the Dr. Doolittle of Vietnam, to discuss the past, present and future of pet welfare.

Why did you decide to follow a less traditional path and become a veterinarian for “small animals”?

I always loved animals as a child. Anytime I saw an animal hurt or abused I would bring it home and take care of it. But back then I feel I did more harm than good because I didn’t know what I was doing. Loving an animal is not sufficient enough to keep it alive. I can thank my mother who allowed me to bring home so many animals and directing me towards becoming a veterinarian. She suggested I follow my heart and do what I love, which is helping animals and educating others about them.

As a leading veterinarian in Vietnam, how do you plan to be “the change you want to see in the world”?

I would like to see more public education on animal welfare. In Vietnam, the universities only focus on breeding and slaughtering, an agricultural practice commonly called Animal Husbandry. My mission in life is to raise public interest and knowledge on animal welfare. There are widespread implications for the way in which animals are treated, used and included in society. I would like to create programs, which provides people, from children to adults with basic information on pet care. My motto: The cheapest medicine in the world is water. If only more people with pets knew this, we could increase the lifespan on animals throughout the country. Currently, I am working to organize a welfare organization for animals, for both domesticated and wild animals. I’d like to call it “Animal Protection Office” to educate the community on animal care.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

I receive little support from Vietnam in general. Most people think I am doing something very luxurious, they don’t see my veterinary practice which predominately deals with only small animals, as a necessity but a rather frivolous endeavor.

How has pet ownership in Vietnam changed in the last few years?

I am seeing more and more Vietnamese bringing their pets to the clinic, especially dogs and cats. Before I would mainly treat the pets of the Expat community but now, as the outside world influences our cultural beliefs and as our society gets wealthier, I see a shift in my clientele, one that is becoming more Vietnamese. In addition, 10 years ago, we didn’t have x-ray machines or we didn’t run blood tests on small animals but Vietnam is changing fast. We are giving out more and more vaccinations and neutering/spaying pets.

Besides being revered as the “cat whisperer” in the community, what do you love about your job?

Rescuing animals that are sick and abused. It is a great feeling to save them and give them a 2nd chance. For more information about Dr. Nghia, Recommended Veterinarian Click Here

Saigon’s Cat Whisperer.