Gia Đình của Bé, also known as Our Family Team, is striving to change the current state of pet culture in Vietnam. We talk to founder Thu Dang about what he hopes to achieve with their animal rescue shelter.
Growing up, Thu Dang was a devout animal lover. Having witnessed her parents rescuing and housing stray dogs and cats throughout her childhood, opening her own shelter later in life seemed a natural thing to do. In July 2015, she made it happen, opening Our Family Team in Tân Bình District, a shelter that not only rescues animals but is also determined to shine a spotlight on the plight of animal welfare in Vietnam.
Animal welfare is a particularly pressing case in Vietnam where the idea of ‘pet culture’ hasn’t always been an important concept. Many dogs and cats are abandoned, abused or even used for meat. Thu explains of a typical day, “We receive notification from animal lovers in Vietnam whenever there is a case that an animal might need our help. We then have to consider our capacity, financial status and contact the vet to see if there is space to keep the animal. After this, we send the animal to the vet and work closely alongside them to ensure the animal is getting better. Following that, we then attempt to find either a foster or forever home for them.” Our Family Team is volunteer-based, with a total of only ten volunteers balancing two to three-hour shifts between them that involve everything from cleaning the shelter to bathing and feeding the animals. She believes that educating people is the biggest factor in bringing about positive change.
Thu also believes that since the rise in profile of shelters such as hers, animal welfare has become a bigger priority in Vietnam, thanks in large part to the younger generation. “I have more teenagers asking about animal welfare. They tell me that they would like to do the same when they are old enough. I can see this might lead to a significant change in the next ten years if the younger generation can join in and take over our role.”
Currently, Our Family Team has had to temporarily stop rescuing owing to a shortage of both volunteers and finances, in spite of Thu’s efforts selling animal accessories to raise extra funds. However, she remains determined to further her cause. “I can only go year by year. But it is an important cause as every day I receive hundreds of messages about animals that need rescuing. We need to educate people and bring about awareness.”
Our Family Team would very much appreciate volunteers and/or kindly donations towards their shelter. Below are their contact details if you’d like to get involved.