GIMME SHEL­TER

Oi speaks to Katie Howard, a vol­un­teer at An­i­mal Res­cue & Care, about fos­ter­ing, fa­vorite adop­tion stories and their Trap-Neuter-Re­lease pro­gram

Oi Vietnam - - Contents - Interview by Chris­tine Van Images by Melissa Agustina

Learn more about An­i­mal Res­cue & Care fos­ter­ing pro­gram and their TrapNeuter-Re­lease project

Can you tell us the ori­gin of ARC?

An­i­mal Res­cue & Care ( ARC, www.face­book.com/ar­cpetsviet­nam) was formed in Septem­ber of 2009 by a woman named Jodie who was liv­ing in Thao Dien. At the time, there wasn’t a res­cue group in Saigon that you could contact when you found an an­i­mal in need, so she put out a call on the An Phu Neigh­bours Google Group for any­one who would like to help her start one.

From that point for­ward, the group has evolved and grown. Although we have many more fos­ter vol­un­teers to­day, our com­mit­tee re­mains quite small. There are around 10 of us who or­ga­nize the ad­min­is­tra­tive, fundrais­ing and daily an­i­mal care tasks.

How many vol­un­teers do you cur­rently have?

How can some­one be­come a vol­un­teer at ARC and what ar­eas are most needed?

We usu­ally fluc­tu­ate be­tween 30-60 vol­un­teers de­pend­ing on the time of year, and typ­i­cally have be­tween 60-70 cats and dogs at any one time.

We have a few dif­fer­ent ar­eas in which to vol­un­teer:

• Cat House vol­un­teers

• Morn­ing and evening dog walkers

• Help with events and fundrais­ing

• Vol­un­teers for our Trap-Neuter-Re­lease pro­gram

• And most im­por­tantly, we al­ways need more fos­ter vol­un­teers

The more fos­ters we have, the more an­i­mals we can ac­cept and help. One great way to start is just to come to one of our daily dog walks so that you can meet our com­mit­tee

vol­un­teers and find out how to get in­volved (while also meet­ing all the ARC dogs!).

What is the screen­ing process for po­ten­tial adopters? How do you en­sure the per­son will not adopt to sell later? What traits do you look for in adopt­ing fam­i­lies or per­sons?

To be­gin the adop­tion process, we ask that ev­ery­one fill out a de­tailed adop­tion form. This will let us know more about your pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with pets, your cur­rent liv­ing ar­range­ment and work sched­ule as well as your plans for the fu­ture.

It’s vi­tal that we know whether in­ter­ested adopters have con­sid­ered not just the added cost and time a pet re­quires, but also what they will do with their pet should they go on hol­i­day, move houses or out of the coun­try, ex­pand their fam­ily or change their work sched­ule. Th­ese are some of the most com­mon rea­son peo­ple end up giv­ing away their pets, so we want to en­sure they’re com­mit­ted to their pet and have thought about all of th­ese fac­tors be­fore they adopt.

If they pass this screen­ing, the next step to come and meet the an­i­mal (or an­i­mals) and a vol­un­teer or fos­ter. Meet­ing face-to-face is a great way for us to get to know the adopter bet­ter and gauge their com­mit­ment and prepa­ra­tion.

If all goes well - we’ll pro­ceed to com­plet­ing the adop­tion pa­per­work and plan a day for the adopter to bring their pet home.

ARC re­quires adopters to pay a nom­i­nal adop­tion fee: VND700,000 for cats and VND1 mil­lion for dogs. We do this for sev­eral rea­sons:

1) This adop­tion fee goes di­rectly to help­ing us pay med­i­cal bills. When you adopt your pet, we’ll con­tinue to cover the cost of vac­ci­na­tions for the first year and ster­il­iza­tion surgery. On av­er­age, for ev­ery an­i­mal we take in, we pay VND1.7 mil­lion to VND2.2 mil­lion for a healthy cat and around VND3 mil­lion for each dog. This cov­ers de­worm­ing, vac­ci­na­tions, ra­bies shot and spay­ing/ neu­ter­ing. This can be more or less de­pend­ing on the con­di­tion in which we re­ceived the an­i­mal and whether any special med­i­cal treat­ment is nec­es­sary such as skin/eye in­fec­tions, in­testi­nal par­a­sites, in­juries, etc.

2) Giv­ing an an­i­mal away for free makes them eas­ier tar­gets for sell­ers who are look­ing to profit off a pet. Aside from screen­ing all adopters, re­quir­ing a fee makes this less worth a per­son’s time if

they’re plan­ning to sell the an­i­mal.

3) Charg­ing an adop­tion fee en­sures the adopter is able to af­ford the ad­di­tional cost of a pet. Pets re­quire food, an­nual vac­ci­na­tions and med­i­cal care when they get sick. If an adopter can­not af­ford the adop­tion fee, how will they af­ford the added monthly cost of a pet?

What hap­pens when the adop­tion doesn't work out?

Re­turned an­i­mals are, thank­fully, not a com­mon oc­cur­rence but it does hap­pen from time to time. Typ­i­cally, we give adopters two to four weeks to see how their adop­tive pet tran­si­tions into their fam­ily. We dis­cuss be­fore­hand and set an agreed trial pe­riod with the adopter.

When it doesn’t work out, we’ll take the an­i­mal back and con­tinue our search for a new adopter. We try to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing in the first place by en­cour­ag­ing all po­ten­tial adopters to first meet and spend time with the an­i­mal they’d like to adopt. We also want them to ask our vol­un­teers any ques­tions they may have about the an­i­mal so that they can feel con­fi­dent in the in­for­ma­tion they’ve re­ceived and with their de­ci­sion to adopt.

What hap­pens to the ones who are older and/or not seen as ‘cute’ enough to adopt. Does ARC be­come their for­ever home?

From most adopters we speak with, they’re more in­ter­ested in find­ing a pet they con­nect and bond with rather than find­ing a pet that fits their ideal phys­i­cal re­quire­ments. When you meet a pet and have that in­stant con­nec­tion, it sud­denly doesn’t mat­ter what they look like.

That said, it’s true that pup­pies and kit­tens tend to get adopted faster than adult an­i­mals. How­ever, older dogs and cats come with plenty of ad­van­tages too. They’re usu­ally much calmer, al­ready house­bro­ken/lit­ter trained, and their per­son­al­i­ties are pre­dictable. What you see is what you get and that’s why we

love shar­ing an an­i­mal’s his­tory, their unique quirks, tal­ents and per­son­al­ity traits so that in­ter­ested adopters can also con­sider th­ese fac­tors when choos­ing a pet.

A great ma­jor­ity of an­i­mals at ARC get adopted within eight months to a year at the long­est. I be­lieve our long­est fos­ter was a cat named Pa­trick who was liv­ing with a fos­ter for over two years. He was in­cred­i­bly smart and play­ful, but be­cause he was older, had a dif­fi­cult time find­ing a home. He even­tu­ally found a great home though!

You have a Trap-Neuter-Re­lease pro­gram (TNR), how of­ten does the team go out on th­ese mis­sions?

It’s one of our goals to de­velop this pro­gram over the next year. Cur­rently, we have just two vol­un­teers who or­ga­nize TNR week­ends, and there’s a lot in­volved.

First, we need to get per­mis­sion from the prop­erty man­ager and neigh­bor­hood in or­der to set traps. We also need to or­ga­nize trans­port and sched­ule the surg­eries with the clinic. And fi­nally, we need to have the full week­end to ded­i­cate to set­ting traps, wait­ing/watch­ing traps, trans­port­ing cats to the vet, let­ting them re­cover from surgery, and then re­turn­ing them back to their home.

We need more vol­un­teers to de­velop this pro­gram, so please contact us if you’d like to pitch in.

Where does the ARC get its fund­ing to con­tinue its res­cue work?

ARC is a 100 per­cent vol­un­teer-based or­ga­ni­za­tion and all funds we re­ceive are from do­na­tions and adop­tion fees. All of this goes to pro­vid­ing med­i­cal treat­ment, food and care sup­plies and helps with our Trap-Neuter-Re­lease pro­gram. We have a Go­FundMe page ( www.

go­fundme.com/ar­cpets) where peo­ple can do­nate online, a do­na­tion box lo­cated at

Saigon Pet Hospi­tal and, of course, our vol­un­teers are al­ways happy to meet with peo­ple who would like to do­nate and visit the an­i­mals that they’re help­ing.

What do you wish more peo­ple knew about ARC and how can they best help the an­i­mals there?

I think a lot of peo­ple be­lieve that ARC is an an­i­mal shel­ter op­posed to a res­cue group, and that we have ken­nels where you can drop off strays when you find them (or even give up your own pet), sim­i­lar to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety or ASPCA in the US, un­for­tu­nately, this isn’t the case. While it would be a dream to have our own lo­ca­tion and more space to house an­i­mals, we just don’t have the re­sources to do this at this time.

There­fore, we rely greatly on fos­ter vol­un­teers to func­tion as a res­cue group. It’s truly a com­mu­nity ef­fort, and we’re al­ways in need of more fos­ters. So, please check with your build­ing/land­lord to see if pets are al­lowed, and contact us for more in­for­ma­tion about how to be a fos­ter.

Cleo Fe­male - 8 months old

Henry Male - 3 years old

Ricky Male - 5 years old

Wasabi Male - 1 year old

Molly Fe­male - 1.5 years old

Ian Train­ing the ARC Dogs

Lago Male - 1 year old

Bis­cuit Fe­male - 1 year old

Bear Fe­male - 6.5 years old

ARC Dog Walk­ing Sched­ule: Mon­day to Satur­day 8:30am and 4:30pm Sun­day 9am and 4:30pm Walkers meet at Saigon Pet hospi­tal (No 33, Street 41, Thao Dien) Spotty Fe­male - 2.5 years old

Bean Male - 8 months old

May Fe­male - 8 months old

Jas­mine Fe­male - 8 Months old

Regine Train­ing the ARC Pack

Coco Fe­male - 8 months old The cats and dogs fea­tured are avail­able for adop­tion, email ar­c­cat­fos­ta­dopt@gmail.com for info.

Louie Fe­male - 1 year old

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