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Vegan Advocacy

Farmed Animals.

In Vietnam, farmed animals are both extensively and intensively farmed, meaning they live in small herds with families and on concentrated feeding operations with tens of thousands of animals. Many of these pigs, cows, chickens, water buffalo, and ducks suffer tremendously throughout their short lives as they are used by humans for profit. This is not a function of the lack of legislation or enforcement, because animal welfare laws and reliable enforcement agencies exists in developed countries and abuse continues unabated, but a result of the fact that they are property of humans used for their own convenience and palate.

  • The Long-Term Solution

    The lack of effective public human and animal health infrastructure in Vietnam make regulations for animal welfare and food safety very difficult to enforce. Within the confines of a corrupt bureaucracy, lobbying for legislation should be considered only one part of a multi-pronged approach to protect animals, but people need to also be aware of the limits of this strategy, especially in the short term.  As a long term strategy for ending animal exploitation, we must consider that building a social movement for animal rights will be the best base for any political moves.  While the Vietnamese government continues to push for greater intensification of animal production for economic purposes, ignoring the drastic effects on climate change of animal production as well as the vulnerability of this sector to disasters, if we do not work to educate people on the detrimental effects of animal consumption on the environment, human health, and animal welfare, we are going to be fighting upstream.  Until the animal rights movement truly integrates itself with other development sectors and uses sound economic theory and evidence-based methodology to apply its logic, then we will continue to see little progress in the fight against animal exploitation.

  • What We Do

    Both the shelter and clinic are entirely vegan with the exception of dog and cat food.  Our staff promote vegan restaurants in the area and cooking classes and we have vegan cookbooks and informational brochures in Vietnamese for our clinic clients. In our education program with children, veterinarians, and  animal welfare organizations, we stress that all animals, regardless of their utility to humans, have rights and that the Five Freedoms extend to both animals and humans.  Our new farm sanctuary, the first in Vietnam, will be a big part of this education work as we allow visitors to see that the animals that society considers something, are actually someone.  Our mixed practice veterinary clinic will also begin treating large animals with experienced foreign vets and stressing the importance to owners of their well-being.

Cat & Dog Meat.

An estimated 5 million dogs are slaughtered in Vietnam every year for meat, while an unknown number of cats are killed for human consumption as well. Many of these animals are stolen pets while others are sold to dog traders. There are dog meat restaurants all over the country, but they are concentrated mainly in the north. Cat meat is most commonly served in the north as well and these animals are shipped in horrible conditions from all over the country to be sold at restaurants there. Dog thieves are rarely caught and punished for stealing dogs as police do not bother with theft of property under 2 million Vietnamese Dong ($100 USD), but many pet owners have attacked dog thieves, beaten, and killed them. The lack of police action against dog thieves and the complete absence of legislation against the industries of cat and dog meat make it a volatile situation here for pet owners.

  • 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

    While we do not specifically focus on the dog and cat meat trade since it is part of our overall strategy to end animal exploitation of all species, we work to teach children, animal welfare groups, and veterinarians about the protection animals and how they can help every day in their own communities.  Part of this includes teaching about the existing legislation that can help them stop the dog and cat meat trade, but also to teach them about how to protect their own animals and their clients animals from being stolen and killed.  We do not encourage buying dogs or cats from the trade as this simply continues to put money in the hands of the traders.  It is an extremely difficult position to take, admittedly, as we know very well that every single dog and cat saved is valuable and deserves a better life.  In the long term strategy for eradicating the trade, however, it is simply an unsustainable method.  It is extremely costly, financially supports the trade, and does not begin to address the problem with there not being nearly enough homes, funding, and human and material resources for the animals taken from traders.  We look at the dog and cat meat trade as any other consumer product in addressing ways to stopping the market.  First we address supply by sterilization programs that reduce the number of unwanted animals roaming the streets or being pets that are sold or stolen for the trade.  We teach people how to protect their animals from thieves and we help the community care for their animals health and behavioral issues at our clinic, eliminating the reason for them selling them to the traders or dumping them on the streets to be stolen.  Addressing the value of pets as lifelong family members rather than disposable and replaceable nuisances goes a long way in getting pet owners to make changes to their routine and homes to take care of their animals better. This is a very slow process, we know, but it is the solution that will be sustainable in the long term rather than an expensive and ineffective quick fix of buying from traders and slaughterhouses.

Wildlife Trade.

The trade in endangered species as well as common wildlife is a very big problem in Vietnam despite being addressed by the authorities as well as by international and locally-based organizations. Unlike the other sectors (livestock and companion animals), wildlife has international support and large-scale marketing campaigns exist to address reducing the demand. One of our favorite organizations, Animals Asia, addresses the bear bile industry by cooperating with the government, attacking demand, and reducing the supply of bears being farmed for their bile. This comprehensive strategy has made it one of the most successful programs in the wildlife trade. The trade in primates continues to be a big problem here, whether endangered or common species, and Environment for Nature- Vietnam (ENV) is one the organizations that works hard to handle the reports of wildlife crimes such as these and to work with the government authorities in confiscating the animals from criminals. While it is illegal to have primates in captivity as pets in Vietnam, it is not uncommon, and addressing this trade is very difficult.

  • The Long-Term Solution

    International treaties along with funding and resources for combating the wildlife trade is a big step forward, but it is not enough.  Local education programs that teach the public about Vietnamese law and the horrible fate of these animals will push for society to make changes.  Training local government to recognize and react to wildlife crime will help as long as corruption is kept in check.  When citizens and tourists learn to recognize wildlife crime and how to report it, it will make it much harder for criminals to capture and sell wildlife and wildlife products.

  • What We Do

    We frequently get emails from tourists traveling in Vietnam when they have seen monkeys living on chains or in cages as personal pets.  We ask these people to immediately report the address and send a Google maps pin plus pictures to ENV who is the liaison to the Forest Protection Department of Vietnam that carries out the confiscations.  We spread the word of wildlife trade issues in Vietnam through our social media so that both locals and tourists can more effectively identify and react to wildlife crimes.  We look to the wildlife sector as being instrumental in development of demand reduction strategies for both farmed animals and companion animals as well.