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Vegan Advocacy

Children.

In Vietnam, children are often being taught from an early age that animal abuse is normal and right. Kids see the way their parents and peers treat animals and they mimic it. Unlike in the West, most children here experience animal slaughter close up in their villages and many are familiar with older family members consuming dog and cat meat. It’s uncommon to see pets on television shows or to see any advertising for pet products that may depict positive relationships with animals. This makes it very difficult to show an alternative to the current model of bad treatment.

  • The Long-Term Solution

    The best way to combat animal rights abuse is by bringing up a new generation of Vietnamese children that value animals’ lives, can care for them appropriately, and can be “junior rescuers” when they see abuse happening.   Bringing positive imagery of human-animal relationships to children through popular media such as cartoons and games in addition to providing them hands on experience of their own with animals will give them a chance to change their thinking on how they can interact with animals.

  • What We Do

    Our education program begins with an interactive discussion on the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare as it relates to humans and then how it relates to animals of all different species.  Children must be taught that a water buffalo, monkey, pig, squid, cat, or dog all have the same desires for living a life free from pain and suffering.  If we focus education programs only on companion animals, the message gets confusing as kids are taught to love some animals and participate in the industrialized torture of others.  If we accept all animals as being morally significant and we acknowledge that humans have no right to use them for our pleasure, amusement, or convenience, it is hard to justify this speciesist position and children need to know that from the beginning if we are ever going to make any headway in protecting animal rights in the future.

Veterinarians.

The veterinary education system in Vietnam is very limited. There are few universities that teach animal sciences in Vietnam, and only four with degrees available for veterinarians with most focusing on livestock. These programs are poorly funded and taught by professors with limited experience in the field. Our veterinary intern went through five years of veterinary school without ever having learned animal anatomy from a live or dead animal and when she came out, she literally could not not take a pulse in a dog. Practical skills are not addressed. Students do not get any surgical experience and often are taught only a semester of companion animal medicine. Universities do not teach aseptic procedure, sedation protocols, or pain management. Diagnosis and treatment skills are limited because the majority of students are focusing on farm animals. When a vet university focuses on livestock, the value on an animal’s well-being takes a back seat to its profitability so students are taught to keep livestock alive until they are profitable for the owner. When an animal is nothing more than a commodity, its welfare is in the fate of owners who will only spend enough on its health to still make a profit. This means that the vast majority of vets coming out of university have already learned that healing is not the point of veterinary medicine. Most graduates work in the pharmaceutical industry for livestock or for the department of animal health. Private practice in most of the country is not profitable enough to go into and getting a position in an established practice is very competitive. As it stands now, veterinary medicine in Vietnam is in the same place as Western Europe was in the 1950s. Animals die from simple sterilization surgeries of infection, experience surgery without proper sedation, and are incorrectly diagnosed and treated by veterinarians with little knowledge of these processes. It’s a very bleak situation.

  • The Long-Term Solution

    Getting a complete ban on dog meat and cat meat is the ultimate goal in Vietnam, but we have a long way to go.  Regulating the industry would do nothing more than encourage dog farming as it has for animals considered as livestock.  Once dogs are farmed, whether there are enforced welfare regulations or not, demand for the industry does not decrease.  Demand reduction strategies targeting dog and cat meat consumers themselves remain as the most effective method to ending the trade.  Enforcement of existing legislation is another route we can take, as there are laws prohibiting transportation of dogs across provinces without rabies vaccination certificates. Cat meat has been banned for over a decade due to a problem with an overpopulation of rats that had been eating the crops, but it is rarely, if ever, enforced. Both of these laws require an active community that hold the police and department of animal health accountable to the existing legislation they are required to enforce.  Since most agents and citizens do not know the law, they cannot hold the authorities accountable.  Educating animal rights organizations and animal lovers around the country will help to bring these laws into enforcement.

  • What We Do

    The Hoi An Veterinary Training Clinic is staffed by Western-trained veterinary volunteers who train our intern, Dr. Trinh, a 2015 graduate from the Hue veterinary university. The Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry approved our proposal for using our facility to train the vet students and university professors when we presented it in June, 2015, but we are still in the process of getting all of our paperwork completed to be able to work with a government institution.  It is not an easy or cheap process as a foreign organization, but we hope to start the training program by Spring 2017.  This will be the beginning of a long term relationship with the university to bring hands-on training to their students and professors, while ensuring that they are able to also adjust their curriculum to meet international standards of veterinary medicine.  In the meantime, we will be taking on a second intern in Spring 2017 and our training opportunities for local vets will continue in Hoi An and Da Nang at the training clinic.

Animal Rights Organizations.

Animal welfare organizations are popping up everywhere in Vietnam as the animal rights movement takes hold here. These organizations are often managed by young, passionate animal lovers who while being extremely enthusiastic, lack practical knowledge of running an animal shelter and adoption program, managing the administration and finances of nonprofit work, and reaching out to the public as voices of the animal rights movement. These groups do not have access to administrative capacity building resources as the Vietnamese government will not register animal welfare groups as nonprofit organizations. Animal rights activists here have little access to the literature on the dominant theories and methodology of animal rights and without any role models for effective advocacy in a country with such a socially and politically repressive government, understanding the process for making change is extremely difficult. Organizations are left with handling an overwhelming number of rescue cases and being stuck in constant financial struggles to take care of the growing number of rescues for which there are no homes. Since most organizations are not in cities with good veterinarians, care for these rescues is very limited.

  • The Long-Term Solution

    Only with intervention from organizations that can host shelter management/pet care workshops, carry out site visits for shelters, and provide training on animal rights advocacy and community outreach can we hope for the organizations of Vietnam to be able to move forward and make change.  Until the grassroots movement for animal rights can manage itself, we need to provide all the help we can to get them on their feet to be the voice of animals in Vietnam.  Once these activists learn how to manage volunteers, hire and train staff, and professionalize their work for animals, big changes will take place.  While they are all drowning in the daily rescues, it is hard to make any headway.

  • What We Do

    We strongly believe that the Vietnamese organizations can and will be able to make huge changes in the way animals are treated if they have the right tools and support to do so.  It is their country and their culture and they can and will be the leaders of the next generation of animal rights activists to push through legislation and social change. Through education programs for local organizations and site visits to shelters across the country with our mobile clinics, we provide ongoing assistance to local organizations in order to help them advance their mission.  We start our education work with an introduction similar to the one for children and vets that includes the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare as it relates to both humans and animals.  They then are introduced to shetler management and animal care issues as well as information about animal rights in general.  We are working towards building up this grassroots social movement with respect to all species, not just companion animals, because the end of animal exploitation will only come when animal advocates address the exploitation towards farm animals, wildlife, and pets.