Nguyen Thi Chi Em's face is red with laughter as she plays with seven rescue dogs, rolling around with them on the living room floor as her beaming husband watches.
The Vietnamese couple took in the dogs after learning in October that authorities had culled their previous pack of 15 while they were in quarantine recovering from COVID-19.
The story captured the hearts of the Vietnamese, many of whom expressed online outrage against authorities and raised donations for the couple.
According to local media reports, authorities said they culled the animals over fears the canines would transmit the coronavirus from their owners to others.
The couple says they spend most of their earnings paying off slaughterhouses and restaurants to spare dogs, and on buying food and medicine for their pets.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Consuming dog meat is legal in Vietnam, but some have called for the practice to be outlawed.
Between cooking the dogs' meals, training and grooming them, dressing them in T-shirts and skirts, and carting them along on motorcycle trips to the market, the couple says the dogs have enriched their lives.
"They are our joy and comfort. It used to be just me and my wife," says husband Pham Minh Hung, 50, who works in construction.
Speaking of her deceased pets quickly brings Em to tears.
"I was sad and cried a lot from missing the other dogs so my husband comforted me and told me we will raise other puppies," she said, cradling a tan floppy-eared puppy.
The couple plans to adopt eight more pups and Em says she would do anything to protect them.
"We would go into hiding in the jungle if that would save them," she told Reuters. "I won't let them be killed again because I cannot go through such heartbreak a second time."