AN ANIMAL-lover from Coventry is hoping to instigate change for pets in Vietnam – one dog at a time.
Former Caludon Castle teacher Gary Byatt moved to Hanoi in 2016 where he is an academic manager at a school.
He and partner Claire Bower, from Hinckley, regularly return to the UK during school holidays to visit friends and family.
But 38-year-old Gary says despite being so far from home, one of the hardest things he finds is how dogs and cats are treated in south east Asia – where there is little in the way of animal welfare laws and dogs are even killed for meat.
The former Warwick University student said: “The idea of animals as pets in Vietnam is very new. Many toy dogs are bought on a whim and abandoned shortly afterwards. Dogs and cats are kept in cages, as fighting dogs, breeding dogs and sadly also for meat.”
The animal lovers have fostered many poorly dogs in the Vietnamese capital, and just one day before they were due to go on holiday received a call from an animal shelter.
Hanoi Pet Adoption asked them for help with a paralysed puppy which had been found dumped among rubbish during the country’s torrential rainy season.
Despite being just hours away from catching a flight, they knew they had to help.
Claire went to visit the three-month-old pup – which they have since named Roux – and found her left in a cage with no food, and unable to lift her head and drink from a bowl of water.
She said if they had not decided to take her there and then, the tiny puppy would not have lasted the night.
Claire told the Observer: “The shelter had few resources to care for abandoned animals apart from cramped cages in a back alley shop. It was clear to me Roux’s condition was very serious. She would have died in hours if I had not made the decision to take her away from there.
“I called the vets here that we use for our own dogs and got her transferred. In the taxi to my surprise she started to respond to me and did the only movement she could manage which was to roll over slightly so I could rub her tummy.
“She was at the vets for two weeks while we were away and is now strong enough to live at our house while she recovers.
“She loves playing with our other rescue dogs Tai and Luna. She’s also receiving acupuncture and has nearly finished her medication for pneumonia.
“Without intervention she wouldn’t have walked again, but many other animals aren’t as lucky. She was paralysed due to poor nutrition when she was a baby which is totally avoidable.”
Claire and Gary are hoping to raise money to help with Roux’s medical bills, which are already mounting due to the two weeks she has spent at the vets and her ongoing care.
They are also hoping to offer support to Hanoi Pet Adoption to improve its services.
Gary said: “We were in a good position to be able to offer this pup the help that she initially needed, but know we are likely to rack up a large bill as the vets work on helping her.
“We also want to help them improve the shelter, which is severely lacking in resources.
“Conditions are so basic and they have so many animals needing urgent care. The space they have is really cramped, hot and noisy.”
Visit www.gofundme.com/help-support-roux039s-recovery to donate or find out more.