To understand the importance of the work in the clinic we must open in March, we need to address the global veterinary industry and its shortcomings, not just the issues we have in Vietnam.
Different treatment for different species
While domestic animals and wildlife are given the consideration that their medical problems should be diagnosed and treated specifically for the purpose of reducing their suffering, sadly, this is not true for farmed animals like cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and many other species both the veterinary industry and the society at large considers “food animals”. They are considered profit, and the medical science about these species focuses on managing their short lives, reproduction, and slaughter for the use of humans rather than as a means to identify their source of suffering as individuals and solve it for the benefit of that individual. Veterinary science for animals considered food is only for the benefit of farmers and consumers, not for the animals itself. We look at disease in livestock as a threat to food safety and farmer profit, not as a detriment to the animals itself. Sadly, this means that the understanding of disease and injury in these species is far less than that of pet and wild species.
The reason our veterinary clinic (much like our organization in general) is different from others is that we consider each individual of any species as just that- an individual, and one that considers its life, and thus its own pain and suffering, as its most important concern which in turn makes it our most important concern as true advocates for these animals. Animals used for profit feel pain no different than any dog or cat, and value their lives no different than any elephant or sea turtle, all of whom receive far more support and funding from animal advocates and veterinarians alike than the animals who suffer in far greater numbers.
Having a clinic that espouses the ethics of a vegan lifestyle, meaning one that treats all species as equals in terms of care and effort afforded them in their diagnostics and treatment, is a groundbreaking concept in veterinary medicine not just in Vietnam, but globally. While farm sanctuaries begin to pop up all over the world, the lack of veterinarians willing and able to treat their residents is profound. This is far from a Vietnamese problem. Some vet practices in the US have even refused to treat farmed animal species who will not be intended for food. This is an outgrowth of the fact that veterinarians are more often than not complicit in the suffering of animals through their support of animal agriculture. We tend to look to veterinarians as examples of how to care for animals, but too often it is vets who are the perpetrators of the acts of violence against them as long as they are not cats, dogs, or other adorable pets that vets tend not to eat.
The value of a vegan veterinary clinic to farm sanctuaries worldwide
Our responsibility as a vegan organization that will run a vet clinic on those principles is that we must lead the way in a relatively new field of veterinary medicine that treats farmed animals no differently than cats or dogs and provide case studies from our own patients to other veterinarians who are tasked with the care of these overlooked species (living in safe sanctuaries) who suffer the most abuse in the world. This information could be life-saving for other animals like them who need treatment in Vietnam and globally. As a veterinary training center, we would be able to impart the knowledge we gain with our work with truly caring for farmed animal species on new veterinary students, thus bringing up a new generation of veterinarians that no longer are complicit in the suffering of animals in animal agriculture. This clinic will break the antiquated mentality that animals are here for us, not with us, and that our responsibility as veterinary professionals is to alleviate rather than perpetuate suffering of animals.
Fundraising challenges for challenging the industry
Unfortunately, this ethical grounding is also what makes us unattractive to donors who would otherwise be interested in funding international veterinary work, and it will also make it more difficult to recruit veterinarians. It is sad that we are actually at odds with the veterinary industry that we all assume to be working for the animals and made up of animal lovers.
We need your help to find organizations and individuals who believe in truly alleviating the suffering of animals rather than perpetuating it. This is a difficult job for just a couple of us here working to open this clinic and without the help of others who are better connected than us, it is going to be much more difficult. Please share if you can and help us to open this clinic and keep it going over the coming years as we work on mass sterilization and vaccination, veterinary training, and building up the veterinary industry of Vietnam to better care for the animals who need us.
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