Guardian of the abandoned and abused

Over the last five years of his 11 years in Vietnam, Frenchman Vincent Leopold Marcel Pascal and his many rescued dogs and cats have been evicted from their home by intolerant neighbors and landlords in four districts in Saigon. Because of the striking appearance of the tattoos on his neck and arms, he has been verbally and physically threatened by strangers. Leo is the founder of Vietnam Animal Cruelty (VAC), an animal rescue shelter he struggles to maintain in a society that generally has misguided ideas of cats and dogs, which he is desperately trying to change. His current home-cum-shelter houses 13 dogs and 90 cats with little capacity left to hold more. Leo works 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week to care and protect them—the animals are under constant danger from thieves trying to steal them to sell to restaurants.

Through sponsorship, funds and a generous donation of rented land from Mai Dung and the Canadian NGO Eyes of Compassion, Leo is currently building a permanent animal shelter in Binh Duong Province The shelter will be built to accommodate 80 to 100 cats and 20 dogs, with room for more, built in an isolated area with high walls to keep thieves away. This joint venture will also provide commercial pet care services like boarding to help support daily operational costs. However, and this is critical, the shelter will need ongoing support for day-to-day costs, which includes essential food and medicine. Donations do not necessarily have to be cash only, if possible, volunteer your time, donate cat and dog food, medicine, accessories and toys (yes, dogs and cats get bored). The new shelter is scheduled to open May/June 2016.

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There are a number of rescues like VAC in Vietnam that manage shelters for abandoned and abused animals but all are understaffed and without long-term funding or government support. Unfortunately, these organizations are not licensed to operate in Vietnam but that’s not by lack of trying—numerous application submissions have been denied—therefore most operate covertly because a visit from the authorities can result in the shelter’s closure and the animals confiscated, awaiting horrible outcomes. Another reason their location is not public is because often owners dump their pets at the shelter after deciding they can’t care or don’t want their pet anymore for whatever reason.

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For details on the progress of the new VAC animal shelter, visit www.vietnamanimalscruelty.com. To make a donation, visit https://www.generosity.com/animal-pet-fundraising/for-the-loveof-our-four-legged-friends-in-need.

BIO: With a family that includes six cats, two dogs and a couple of dozen fish, Wayne Capriotti is a zoo curator and, along with his wife, publishes Vietnam’s first pet magazine Me Thu Cung.

Images by Ngoc Tran