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BackStories » Vietnam » After International Outrage, Vietnam Backpedals on Destroying Thousands of Smuggled Cats

Last week, Hanoi police discovered a truck packed with three tons of live cats destined for Vietnamese restaurants. After it was reported that the felines were to be destroyed in accordance with local laws, the case gathered international attention, and Vietnamese police now say they haven’t made up their minds on what to do with the animals.

Police found the smuggled cats when inspecting the truck which was parked on a Hanoi street around midnight, reported Thanh Nien citing a report in Tuoi Tre.

The truck’s driver, 30-year-old Hoang Van Hieu, said that the felines originated in China and were taken across the border to meet demand for the thriving Vietnamese cat meat market which is centered in the northern provinces of Thai Binh and Nam Dinh. According to Vietnamese law, evidence (cats in this case) recovered from smuggling operations is required to be destroyed.

Once the story hit the international press, animal rights groups, such as U.S. based Global Conservation Group, called on the Vietnamese government to give them custody of the animals. Some American veterinarians have also said that they’re willing to fly to Vietnam to examine the cats.

On Thursday, a Hanoi police officer told journalists "We have not made up our mind what to do with them" due to their large volume.

This statement has given hope to the Global Conservation Group which “says they're in the process of coordinating with local animal shelters, pounds and veterinary hospitals in the event custody of the cats is granted to them,” according to the Examiner.

The group has also contacted the Vietnamese embassy in the United States about the issue though they have yet to receive a response.

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