Here is a little breakdown about what we do NOT do:
– Online petitions– They don’t work in Vietnam at all, and often they don’t work anywhere in the world, particularly with animals. We are not ever going to waste time with them.
– Buying animals from the dog or cat meat trade– This is not sustainable on a large scale and we discourage other organizations and individuals from this as a strategy for ending animal cruelty. It pays money to the people who are making money off death and in no way stops them from selling more animals. From all I have seen, there is not a single anti dog meat campaign globally that actually works in reducing the demand for the product. Addressing supply is never going to work unless it is about stopping the breeding of animals and pet ownership in general.
– Encouraging sheltering as the only way to rescue animals– There are no vets here in Vietnam that can handle shelter medicine, no rescues capable of handling adoption on the scale necessary, and most local organization volunteers don’t even know that animals need water all day long. Having 1000 animals in a facility who will never get proper medical care or homes is not reasonable or responsible, particularly if there is also no sterilization program being offered to the community, no veterinary training, and no education programs to actually STOP the problem.
– Hoarding– Taking every animal that suffers regardless of whether you have the resources to care for them is not rescue. It is hoarding and it is irresponsible. Having facility limits is not negotiable. Reducing the welfare and safety of the animals you have by going beyond your capacity limits is dangerous and irresponsible and will burn out all your help and reduce your effectiveness as an organization. Most organizations in Asia are guilty of this. As a result of our capacity limits and low resources, we have lost a lot of attention for not having 500 or more animals in squalor. Bigger is not always better if you don’t have the resources to care for these animals.
– Supporting incremental changes that do not reduce demand for the consumption of animals- Cage free eggs do not stop people from eating eggs, thus perpetuating the breeding and imprisonment of birds who are still suffering prior to their young deaths. Vegan advocacy does stop the demand for animal consumption and exploitation. We do not have time for incremental changes that change nothing. We need to stop the production of animal products by pushing for and end to demand that hurts the suppliers not holds them up
– Supporting anyone who “does something” for animals– We need to do “something” well with long term strategies in mind, not just Bandaid fixes on bone cancer. A lot of people want to rescue animals, but then lack the resources to care for them and are dangerous to the entire sector, namely those who are buying animals from the dog meat trade.
– Single issue campaigns– They do not work! Condemning the seal hunt, dog meat trade, or fur while mentioning nothing about how we can all stop EATING animals products three times a day makes no sense. As long as the demand for cows, pigs, and chickens continues, we have NO hope of ending the dog meat trade. If you are not vegan and are against the fur trade, you might want to check your morals.
– Supporting only Western organizations in Asia- These tend to dominate the discourse when local organizations have a far greater chance of understanding the culture and knowing how to work within it not against it to make change. Capacity building for local organizations is vital in any country, and it is NOT happening in Vietnam so far.
– Separating animal rights from other development sectors– We are pro-environment, pro-public health, pro- sustainable development. Until we professionalize the animal rights sector and start acting like we are also a vital part of development, we are going to get nowhere. No social change or political change will occur when animal rights remains in the shadows as kitten huggers or street protestors who use only emoticons to talk on Instagram.
Animal rescue can do better. We have seen some great shelters over the years in Vietnam, and also some really horrible places that had no business being called rescues. What we mostly advocate for is for rescue to be a much more valuable part of the animal rights movement, particularly one that represents the interests of ALL species and unequivocally supports a vegan lifestyle.