A 5-Stars (out of 5) Vet in Hanoi! Meet Dr. Bao

25 05 2011
Veterinarian in Hanoi

What's up doc??

BEEP-BEEP- IT’S DR. BAO MOBILE VETERINARIAN TO THE RESCUE

Just moved to Hanoi and in need of a recommended veterinarian? According to The New Hanoian Dr. Bao is just a phone call away. From emergencies to basic check-ups, Dr. Bao is on many pet-owner’s speed dial (0903223217). According to one cat owner, “Dr. Bao is a lively, affable guy and provides a service which is definitely needed by foreigners living in Hanoi. One call and the good doctor and his assistant will show up at your home and treat your critter for whatever ails ’em. A strong English language ability, funny tales and a good bedside manner are all included free of charge.”

SAME SAME BUT VERY DIFFERENT 

Not all practicing veterinarians are qualified to treat small companion animals. To date, universities in Vietnam focus on livestock care/treatment. Teaching small animal medicine is an after-thought and still considered a “luxury”. But as the country continues to develop and modernize the need for well-trained “pet vets” will increase. Having just finished one of James Herriot’s books, it is interesting to note the similarities in attitudes. Back in the early 1930’s, England was still a highly agrarian society (much like Vietnam) thus the need for qualified “farm animal doctors” was very important. People back then often ridiculed those veterinarians who did practice companion animal medicine, claiming it to be a blue-blooded hobby and not a real profession unlike the livestock veterinarians.

A TAIL OF TWO RABBITS

According to one of Dr. Bao’s patient’s (owner), “Kim and Sophie were both supposed to be girls. Imagine my shock and surprise when we returned from a holiday to find them, er, wrestling all over the house….Dr Bao to the rescue! He came and gave the bunnies a physical and took Kim away for an overnight stay. Eventually peace, calm and cuteness restored to our house! Dr Bao dispenses advice on pet care and overall is keen to provide education on how to respect and provide better care for animals. I always leave his number if we are holidaying so our pet minders can call if him needed.”

TWO MORE “PET”IMONIALS

“5 stars for Dr Bau! Fantastic service. Attentive, passionate and he knows his stuff! The house calls help my puppy avoid infectious diseases in a ‘clinic’ environment. Now he is vaccinated without fuss and at a reasonable cost. A plan was written up for the next few months and I also received some great tips ad advice. My puppy would have left with him if he could’ve.”

“Dr Bau has treated my kitten many times, he lives on the same street as me and always comes very quickly when I call. He has perfect english and genuinely loves animals. Whenever I call him he answers and he is always very thorough with his consultation. He is extremely kind and caring. When my kitten was really ill he took him to his house and gave him an IV drip and checked him/fed him/played with him many times during the night. He is extremely cheap compared to western prices just a few dollars for a home visit, maybe more for houses further away, his service could not be better!”

Me-owwww....

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Importing/Exporting Pets From Vietnam

20 05 2011
Ve Nha

Are we going home yet?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO FLY FIDO HOME

Somehow it seemed relatively easy to import our three dogs into Vietnam. Yes, we did hire a pet-forwarder in Dubai to take care of all the paperwork but we didn’t encounter too much hassle at customs in Hanoi. All we needed to make sure was that our dogs were current on their rabies shot and they had a clean bill of health. I am not sure if Vietnam has restrictions for certain breed types, I know Dubai did so please check.

EXPORTING DOGS (PETS) BACK TO THE U.S.

Fortunately, the U.S. is a non-rabies free country, so there is NO quarantine requirement for bringing the dogs back into the country. Sadly, many other countries require that pets be quarantined for up to six months depending on the country (e.g. of rabies-free country: Australia, U.K. Hong Kong, Singapore, Jamaica, St. Lucia, to name but a few). We thought it would be fairly easy getting our dogs out of Vietnam. Wrong! The biggest problem was our largest dog who weighs 54 kilos (105 lbs). He uses the Vari-kennel 700 Series for Mastifs and other big dogs. No planes flying through the Pacific could accommodate such a large kennel. The largest kennel size permitted on flights over the Pacific is the Vari-kennel 500 series (40x 27x 30 inches), a total of 97 inches. We were able to book our other three dogs as “checked baggage” on United Airlines for $250 per dog. Depending on the route/plane a passenger is allowed up to 4 dogs. The route was from Saigon to Hong Kong to Chicago to Orlando. A long and grueling flight for the dogs, with over 25 hours fly/transit times.

DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO EXPORT PETS TO THE U.S. VIA HONG KONG

1. Transit Permit for Hong Kong. You can download the form on their website. One-page, easy to fill out. For three dogs it cost around $75 USD. Once the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative/ AFCD receives it, it takes them 5 working days to process. I sent mine to Hong Kong via  FedEX, they got it the next day. Now, through my moving company Asian Tigers, I arranged for the permit to be sent back via TNT courier because I simply cannot trust something so valuable and critical to the Vietnamese postal service. In all it took about 1.5 weeks. Since the permit is good for 1 year. I would do it sooner than later. NOTE: MUST SEND HONG KONG DOLLAR/ MONEY ORDER VIA HSBC… I went to one of the few branches that does it…. right by the church/ Highlands Coffee… near-ish to Vincomm Mall… but since I didn’t have an account with HSBC and they wouldn’t give me a money order, I had to get my friend who is an account holder to help me out!
2. International Health Certification (7 day window before you leave). Some airlines WILL accept Dr. Nghia’s certificate. Lufthansa and United Airlines did NOT. The Health Inspection Office is in Thanh Binh District, Dr. Nghia has the address. It cost 65,000 dong to process and 24-hours. You will need a copy of your passport/ visa/ e-ticket/ Pet Book inside first page and shots page/ also bring along your transit permit in case they want to see it. You will ALSO need to bring your dogs for inspection. Mine sat out in the taxi, panting until the officer came around to looking at them. Surprisingly, they were pretty nice… BUT bring along somebody Vietnamese and leave some “tea money”
3. Rabies Vaccination no less than 30 days no more than 1 year (I believe you are good on that).
4. Micro-chip. I know that the U.S. required that our dogs have a micro-chip when we exported them from America but they do not need one coming in.. yet United Airlines specifically asked for their microchip number… so it is best to have!

5. Other Transit Permits. My friend flew her dog via Taiwan to Canada on EVA Air and she needed to get a transit permit from Taiwan as well.

6. Most Pet-Friendly Airline Out Of Vietnam. Avoid Vietnam Airways at all costs. They had no clue in how to handle/transport and I would be scared to leave something so precious in their care. I knew a few people who have used EVA Air from Vietnam to transport their dogs to the U.S. but their routes are limited. But a good option. Overall, we were very, very happy with United Airlines. The HCMC staff was VERY professional and courteous. Everyone did a great job in handling our fur-babies.

Hello Kitty

Are we there yet?

PET FORWARDER VS. DO-IT-YOURSELF

I was hoping to save money and do all the paperwork myself for my remaining dog. I’ve flown enough times with them I had a good understanding of what is required… however… do NOT ATTEMPT to book your dog via cargo by yourself. There is a serious racket going on in Vietnam and they either refuse to deal with you or give you the wrong information on purpose so you are forced to use one of their freight-forwarders (Cathay Pacific: next blog will discuss this horrible, unscrupulous affair). Save yourself the trouble and vexation. Go with Santa Fe Moving Company. Anh Vo is the owner/ pet re-locater. They did a good job in getting our big dog out of Vietnam. Of course not without many hurdles e.g. Lufthansa Cargo HCMC is completely uninformed and clueless which resulted in me having to contact the Frankfurt office time and time again to get clearance for my dog.

PAPERWORK FOR FLYING DOG CARGO 

Santa Fe took care of procuring the International Health Certificate on my behalf. I was responsible for making sure my dog was current on his rabies and that he had a microchip. The pet-forwarding company handled all other paperwork from airway bill to export permits.

KENNELS- HANDY TIPS 

As two of our dogs are old, I had a bunch of diapers sewn onto their mattress pad so they could relieve themselves during the flight without sitting in the cold wet urine for 25++ hours. I also froze their water in their tray the night before, along with their drip bottle. I affixed a bag of dry food to the top of the kennel and their paperwork (copies of the original: transit permit, rabies cert, health certificate, my passport page, microchip info, airline ticket). My friend took a photo of her dog along with basic information of her pet and pasted it on the kennel..

FYI

Never give your dog tranquilizers or calming aids before a flight. Veterinarians strongly discourage this as the animal tends to get more dehydrated and anxious when they wake-up. Also, certain breeds are banned on certain airlines, check ahead. I made the serious mistake of labeling my MUTT as a Mastiff-Mix… he has maybe 10% Mastiff in him, the rest is a combination of 54 other dogs. Well, the airlines refused to fly him because my paper had the word “Mastiff” a breed banned on their flight… eventually we were able to get him cleared.. but it was a harrowing experience.

BONE-VOYAGE

I always hate to imagine what my dogs endure on these flights.. what the cargo hold is like… but there is NOTHING we can do about this. Dogs are much more resilient then we think. Plus, as my friend said, “what are you worried about, they get more leg room then we do!”
living in Vietnam





Help My Cat’s Been Cat-Napped!!!!

29 04 2011
Help! My Cat Has Been Stolen!

"Meow... I want to go home!"

It seems as if pet-napping has become more rampant in Vietnam. The economic motive behind the theft is great. Usually the reward for returning the pet to the the grief stricken family is high, a few month’s salary high. The incentive is there so pet-napping has become an easy way to “earn” money. If your pet ever gets “napped” in Hanoi, here are some of the things you should know and do.

HOW TO INCREASE THE ODDS OF GETTING YOUR PET BACK

1. Don’t bother going to the police. They will be unable to assist you.

2. Quickly post up reward posters around your neighborhood. Include a photo of your pet and in big bold letters, the reward amount.

3. No matter if your pet is spayed/neutered or NOT, state that your pet is “de-sexed”. Many times people steal pets in hopes of breeding them.

4. Show NO tears!!! When you visit the following places, pack your tears away and go with a poker face. The more emotion you show, the more expensive it will be to get your pet back.

5. Post the reward posters in both English and Vietnamese.

PLACES  TO LOOK FOR YOUR STOLEN PET

1. Go in the morning to the pet market at the Buoi Market**

2.  Take a look inside the pet shops along Hoang Hoa Tham

3. Dong Xuan Market and Hang Da Market often sell pets/ animals

4. There is a market that sells stolen pets on Duong Kim Nguu. You go down the street a ways until you get to the market and then go inside.

**One more thing about the Buoi market, it takes place on days in “4” and “9” according to the soli-lunar calendar (this means on the “4”, “9”, “14”, “19”, “24” and “29”).
The next market will then be on tuesday 26th of April (24 in the lunar calendar).

5. There is a street called Phung Hung near Hoan Kiem Lake, there are also some pet shops there selling kittens and cats.





Pet-Friendly Hotel in Vietnam?

17 03 2011
Where to go with pets
“We’re goin’ for a ride!”

ANY PET-FRIENDLY HOTELS IN VIETNAM????

I’ll give you a quick answer, NO! As of now, there are no official pet-friendly hotels in Vietnam. But off the record, there are a number that will allow pets to stay if you can get someone to negotiate for you in Vietnamese. But before you start imagining yourself poolside at the Nam Hai or the Sofitels with Fifi, I have to let you know, all the 5-star hotels have a seriously strict NO DOGS, NO PETS allowed policy. Instead, look for the 2-star motels or any kind of backpacker establishment as a possible option. However, there IS one resort I know of in Vietnam who has a discreet pet-sort-of-friendly policy. It is a well-kept secret by many pet-owners in Hanoi. It is called the Van Chai Resort and it is about 170km (2.5-3 hours) outside of Hanoi. Pet Friendly Van Chai Click Here. The Resort is located on Sam Son beach, a private beachside sanctuary complete with indoor and outdoor pools, spa, and acres of well-maintained tropical gardens. Our three dogs got their first taste of freedom after a year of being on a leash in Hanoi. Van Chai is the PERFECT place to stay with your pets and a great escape from the pollution and mayhem of Hanoi.

Chillin poolside

We'd like 3 Liver-Daiquiris please!

WHERE’S THE S(PAW)??

Our dogs were over the moon at being able to run around the premise freely. At first they didn’t know what to do or where to go, they were so used to being leashed during their walks. I must stress that we went during the off-season, mid January, so it seemed like we were the only guests at the resort. Consequently, we were able to let our dogs run amok and explore to their heart’s content. Not sure, the management would be too thrilled to see dogs poolside during the peak season, with other guests lying around.

Van Chai Pet Friendly

"How's this pose? Did you get the boat in the background?"

PET-PARADISE!

With so much private beachfront, there was so much space for the dogs to explore and sniff around.  The hotel staff was also very friendly. However, it’s not the nicest beach, I’ve ever seen. Don’t expect a stunning seascape! The ocean is quite wild and the water is a chocolate brown color. The beach was dotted with broken shells and washed up “junk” yet it was a peaceful retreat after living in Hanoi. I am sure as the country continues to develop and pets become more popular, more hotels will consider changing their no pet policy to a pet-friendly one. As of now, the best place to go is Van Chai Resort, but please remember to pick up after your dogs so everyone can enjoy a clean, poop-free environment!

Van Chai beach and Nhopa

"I thought you said we're going to Miami Beach!"

"I'm going to pretend I don't notice you trying to do the peace sign behind my head!"

"I really dig this place because.... SQUIRREL!!!!!"

Van Chai and the Dogs

"Tam Biet Van Chai Resort! It was fun, although you should stock the mini-bar with bones instead of chocolate!!"





Spay-It Forward- ARC Vietnam’s Spay/Neuter Program

13 03 2011

Vietnam Spay and Neuter Program

ARC Vietnam Spay-It Forward Program

A MILLION REASONS TO SPAY OR NEUTER

Did you know, in 6 years, 1 female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies? In 7 years, 1 female cat and your young can produce 420,000 cats!

MS. NGUYEN THAO VI- AN ANGEL IN SAIGON

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Nguyen Thao Vi, in my opinion one of the kindest, most compassionate animal lovers in Vietnam! Ms. Nguyen is loved by many cat and dog owners around Ho Chi Minh City. Her online rescue and foster program, “Yeu Dong Vat” (Love Animal) has allowed for the successful placement of abandoned and abused kittens, cats, puppies and dogs around Saigon. Ms. Nguyen has a huge following on Facebook as many recognize her genuine compassion and love for those without a voice (animals). Ms. Nguyen is a truly inspirational figure, she inspires me and gives many hope that one day animal welfare will become a more common and accepted practice in Vietnam.

ARC’S 1ST LARGE SCALE SPAY & NEUTER MISSION

A.R.C. partnered with Ms. Nguyen and neutered and spayed seven of her favorite cats. A.R.C. members collected her cats and brought them to Saigon Pet Clinic where Dr. Nghia and his staff waited for the cats’ arrival. The surgery was a success and the cats went home the next day. Ms. Nguyen is happy to report that the cats are doing great!

A.R.C. advocates for low-cost spaying and neutering as the most effective means of preventing the births of dogs and cats in Ho Chi Minh City, and their subsequent abandonment, suffering and mass killing.

Spay-It Forward

Going to Get Tutored!

KNOW THE FACTS:

  • What are spaying and neutering?

The neutering operation for cats and dogs (spaying for females) is the best and safest method of pet birth control.

  • Are you scared of being bitten by a dog or cat with rabies?

By neutering or spaying, you reduce the number of dogs and cats on the street. Also, neutered/spayed animals are less likely to roam, run away or get into fights. It protects your pet from dangerous viruses spread through bite wounds.

  • Will my dog or cat become more aggressive after the operation?

No! Neutered/spayed animals are less likely to bite. 60%-80% of animals that bite people have not been sterilized. You can reduce the number of rabies cases by neutering/spaying your pet.

  • Will my dog or cat become stupid, fat and lazy after the operation?

No! Just like people, pets become overweight when they eat too much and/or exercise too little. The operation DOES NOT make your pet stupid, fat and lazy.

  • Will neutering/spaying reduce the lifespan of my pet?

No! Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives. The operation eliminates uterine or ovarian cancer and reduces breast cancer.

  • Will my male dog/cat be less of a “man”?

No! Spayed or neutered pets are often less aggressive, more relaxed and even more affectionate. Male pets do not “miss or feel sad” after the operation. He doesn’t suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crises when neutered.

  • Why is neutering/spaying my cat good?

Neutering cats make them less likely to spray and mark territory. This reduces the bad smell from your cat spraying around your home.

  • Is it expensive?

No! Many clinics offer reasonable rates. It is the best investment you can make for your pet’s health and your family’s well-being. Saigon Pet can provide low-cost service to those in need.

  • Will my dog or cat experience a lot of pain?

No! Dogs and cats are anesthetized for the procedure. They will NOT feel the procedure, they will be asleep.

For more information on ARC’s Spay-It Forward Program, contact arcneuter@gmail.com.





Hippocratic Pet Oath in Vietnam?

9 03 2011
Saigon Pet Vietnam

Saigon Pet Vietnam- Best Veterinarian Clinic in Vietnam

IN DOG WE TRUST- A VETERINARIAN’S OATH

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.”

ONLY HUMAN

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.

DID YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET THE BEST YOU COULD?

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!

DOG GONE WRONG BEHAVIOR

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!

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

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.

SAIGON PET CLINIC

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!





2011- Eating Cat in the Year of the Cat!

8 03 2011

 

Vietnam Year of the Cat

"Toi khong vui. Toi la meo!"

 

MMM…. FANCY FELINE FEAST!!!

2011 has started off as a good year for many… unless you are a cat!  Unfortunately, because the cat is the zodiac celebrity of the year, many Vietnamese have increased their consumption of cats. Like eating dog meat, cat meat is considered a part of the country’s traditional cuisine. Groups of men (more so than women), seated on mats spend their evenings sharing plates of dog/cat meat and drinking alcohol since the meat is believed to raise libido. It is also said to bring luck and good fortune. Some restaurants in Hai Phong and Ha Long Bay even advertise cat meat hot pot as “little tiger”, and cats in cages can be seen meowing away in their cramped and filthy cages. However, Vietnamese aren’t the only ones eating man’s best friend or furry feline, some visitors to the country also enjoy the novelty of tasting and saying, “I’ve eaten a dog!” or “I’ve just ate Garfield!”

Thit Cho/ Thit Cay/ Thit Meo Nha Hang O Saigon

 

DOG:COW… SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT.

As a vegetarian, I don’t see the difference between eating a dog and eating a cow, both are meat. Although I was raised in a culture where we revere dogs and cats not eat them, I find it hypocritical to condemn a culture that eats dog as meat but not a culture that eats lamb, pigs, and other animals. HOWEVER, what I do vehemently object to is the way the dogs and cats are killed in Vietnam and other parts of Asia. As an animal rights activist and member of A.R.C. Vietnam (www.arcpets.com), I whole-heartedly object to the brutal manner in which dogs and cats are slaughtered. It is sadistic and very Dahmer-ish.

 

BRUTAL TORTURE OF CATS & DOGS

While in some cultures like Vietnam, the consumption of dog and cat meat may be seen as traditional or beneficial for health, I do NOT believe these arguments can justify animal cruelty. In Vietnam, cats and dogs are tortured and teased for a length of time before finally being killed. Whether a captured stray or a farmed dog/cat, many marketplace slaughter methods are deliberately designed to intensify and prolong the animal’s suffering. This is the result of a misguided belief that torturing an animal prior to death results in better tasting, adrenaline-rich meat. Killing methods include clubbing to death, throat-slitting, hanging by the neck and electrocution.

CURIOSITY DIDN’T KILL THE CAT, MR. NGUEYN DID!

The good news is that recent Vietnamese opinion polls – where animal welfare is a relatively new concept – suggest that the consumption of dogs and cats is losing popularity, especially with the younger generation. Although the consumption of cats is on the rise this year, the big picture suggests that eating dogs and cats is slowly beginning to decline as Vietnam clamors to become an international country and aspires to rise to first-world standards.  Fortunately, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon!

Dead Cats

"Meo Chet!"

Cat Meat

"Me-ow.... Me-owwww!"