With Tet just around the corner, pet owners planning to leave town are scrambling to make arrangements for their animals. Cats are not welcome at many pet hotels since their “meow” sounds too much like ngheo meaning “poor” in Vietnamese.
Photo: Tuoi Tre
Dogs, on the other hand, are generally welcome since their bark is thought to sound like giau or “rich” and hence a more auspicious sign during the New Year.
Pham Bich Diep, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan District, said until a few years ago she was unable to travel or visit relatives during Tet because she had no way to care for her cats while away.
She did not dare not ask relatives or neighbors to take care because of the stigma attached to cats.
But now she can count on a few reliable places where her four-legged friends will be cared for by professionals.
Cao Phat, a businessman in District 7, told Tuoi Tre that in the past his wife and he had to rely on reluctant relatives to take of their cats when they go on holiday.
And whenever the relatives refused, the young couple had to cancel their travel plans. “It was such an inconvenience,” he said.
“Now, we can go away on vacation without worrying since pet centers specializing in cats have opened in the city.”
They include dog-focused centers like Hoang Gia in Thu Duc District, Petty Mart in District 6, and Vu Hoang in District 10 in addition to some cat-friendly pet hotels.
But Pet Care Hospital at Thao Dien Ward, District 2, is generally considered the best and most reliable place for leaving pets.
It was established six years ago by veterinarian Huynh Thanh Ngoc.
“We deeply love animals,” says Ngoc.
At the center, pets walk and play in the garden and are regularly provided food and fresh water. They are cuddled and receive lots of loving care to compensate for the fact that their owners are away.
“Your pets will be happier and less stressed in a nurturing and familiar environment,” Phuong Anh, a senior center staff, told Tuoi Tre.
It can take in 40 animals at a time and was fully booked during Tet last year. In fact, it had to turn away many customers.
“We had 25 dogs and 15 cats last Tet and the number is expected to increase this year,” Anh said.
Pet Care has branches in District 7’s Phu My Hung, District 11, and in nearby Vung Tau city to meet the growing demand for such services from both Vietnamese and foreigner pet owners going away on vacation.
For the Lunar New Year of Cat, the hotel will check in its four-legged customers between January 31 and February 8 for VND1.1 million in case of a cat and for VND1.7 million to VND2.65 million in case of a dog, depending on weight.
It also offers veterinary services including check-ups and treatment, laboratory and radiology diagnosis, vaccination, and surgery, and other services like pet transport, import and export consultancy, and a grooming spa.
Animal shipping information - Vietnam Airlines Cargo
Dogs, cats, and birds can be carried as checked baggage. Other animals have to be checked in as cargo
• Request for Pets services should be made at least 24 hours prior to time of departure.
• Pets should be accompanied by valid health and rabies vaccination certificates, entry permit, and other documents required by countries of departure, transit, and entry.
• Passenger requiring pet services shall assume all risks of injury, sickness, and death during carriage.
• Only pets in healthy state without offensive odors will be accepted for carriage. Those that are in bad health or are pregnant will be rejected.