A New Year and New Clinic

Thank you to all our supporters who have kept us running this year! We are so grateful for those of you who have allowed us to continue our vital work here in Hoi An.  It is an endless fight to keep open, but we have just barely managed for now.

We continue to struggle badly, however, and in spite of so much work trying to get the funding for the clinic to shift away from the unsustainable work of sheltering, no funds have materilized.  We are caught in an unending cycle of training short term staff and trying to keep bowls full and while managing the many animals who totally lack competent vets regionally. We are bombarded with messages for animals who need us, and unable to take in any rescues, manage any vet cases, or even handle the ones we have as long as we are stuck with the extremely low quality of vet care that exists now in central Vietnam.  Saying “no” to every animal in need, many of whom aren’t complicated cases but are still impossible with local vets, is heartbreaking on a daily basis because we know very well that the moment we open that clinic, we will finally get to say “yes” again and help those who need us. Until then, we are paralyzed, barely keeping our heads above water. 

I wish I had more hope and an adorable message for all the supporters who want me to say something perky and totally out of character, but coming into the new year with $34 in the organization account, $11 in my own account with credit card debt for both that has many, many more digits, I struggle to be optimistic. We cannot pay staff tomorrow.  We cannot buy pig food or cat food. We have had the worst December for fundraising in all 7 years of our work in Vietnam. It’s terrifying to live like this. I’m all out of cute things to say. 

I cannot help but be realistic and remember every single animal we could NOT help because none of this has any element of financial sustainability and getting and keeping long term, experienced, and reliable staff relies 100% on that fact alone.  I try now to avoid even telling people what I do for a living because inevitably they will say something about what a great thing it is to do such a job, when I automatically then turn into a ranting fireball that goes off on the madness and futility of rescue when the only real answer lies in prevention. The entire field of rescue is just a Bandaid on bone cancer, one that requires us to sell the idea that the work is “cute” through silly posts littered with emoticons to get small donations that keep us drowning in funding problems.  

On top of all that, the industry is rife with doggie-loving, animal-eaters who attack vegans for being extreme while telling the world that hurting a dog is cruel but murdering a chicken is super duper fine and dandy.  I have no faith in the system of rescue and sheltering because it is funded almost entirely by avoiding the solutions to animal suffering. We drown in low-impact work that costs exponentially more than prevention, but prevention doesn’t sell.  It has no sex appeal for donors. We lose people the moment we highlight that animal suffering can be avoided daily by each and every one of us through our own consumption habits worldwide. We can NOT save animals by taking a dog off a dog meat truck in a country you’ll never even visit because you’ve been convinced by adorable white people with logos of large organizations on their colorful polo shirts that everyone here is a dog murdering savage.  Running a rescue and the only farm sanctuary in Vietnam as a vegan is a nightmare I wouldn’t give to my worst enemy. It’s not cute. There are no adorable emojis to describe my life. I am proud of the work the organization has done with the help of many people who have come and gone, but ultimately, I am all too aware of the insufficiency of the model of rescue and sheltering and I am justifiably angry that I cannot get that message to enough people to make even a shred of difference to our work in Hoi An. 

I have the solution to animal suffering (mass sterilization, veterinary training, and VEGANISM) and can do jack diddly shit about it because ultimately it goes against what the donating public are interested in.  Being unable to reach those who could drop $160k on a vet clinic opening is the biggest blockade to being able to do the work we set out to do. Having a clinic which could financially sustain itself and save literally tens of thousands more animals annually than a shelter would make much more sense than us begging for the small donations that have never sustained the shelter or any of our programs.  And yet, the funding is elusive and here at the end of the year, we are no better off than we were a year ago. I have failed horribly to be the fundraiser we need and cannot afford to pay someone who could do better. We are so much deeper in debt, still struggling to even have $100 in the account at any time, can’t pay salaries on time, keep bowls full, or pay our damn rent. It’s a really adorable version of hell where we are constantly screwed and still able to snuggle a kitten or piggy once in a while, but it is still hell and getting no one anywhere good, particularly not me. 

My only new years resolution is to NOT be in this same situation next year, much less in 2 months.  The only thing that matters at all is that clinic. There is nothing that will stop us from opening a clinic but it will take good people who stick around and know what the hell they are doing who can help this organization shift to from Bandaids to solutions. I am not a one man army.  This work takes a battalion of hard working, educated, and experienced badasses, and that all costs $$$. I am no less passionate about this clinic now than I ever was, in spite of the endless hardship and frustration this has caused me personally. The solutions to the problems we face can ONLY being addressed in a top-notch, internationally-managed, full-service, year-round veterinary clinic that cares for ALL species equally. Nothing less will ever do. I ask all of you to get on board and help us reach that goal in any way you can.  Vietnam is not a lost cause. We can help. We just cannot do it alone and we are not going to do it without a better financial model and a professional fundraiser pulling the level of investment necessary to make this happen. 

That is not to say I am not determined, but I am realistic and while I know I will go through many more years of this nightmare to ensure our animals are cared for and our mission accomplished, I know it will be a massive struggle that will break me again and again and take barrels of coffee and wine to survive.  There will be tears, holes punched in walls, and tons of screaming, but that clinic will be open before my birthday in April. I’m very much done fucking around. Anyone willing to join in, please jump on board. We know how to help these animals, just need the people and $$$ to make it happen. 

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Reference VAAR

Vietnamese donations:
Account name: Tran Tuyet Mai
Account No.: 0400 4638 4034
Bank name: Sacombank- chi nhánh Đà Nẵng.

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