A letter to the supporters of animal rescue from the end of my rope

This will not be comfortable.

Since 2013 I have kept you entertained with the stories of life and death that make up our every day in Vietnam while we run our shelter, farm sanctuary, and several years of our clinic. I have let you dictate the stories that were told by the number of likes I got for my post and the donations that trickled in when a photo was gory enough for you to pause for a few seconds to click on. I have allowed you to make me feel like I do not matter in all this, not me and not the other hard working people on the ground who see horrific things to bring you one damn before/after photo you can click that stupid thumb for. I have done all I can to help any animal that has come to us, and while I have failed at saving so many in spite of our best efforts, the only thing you all will donate for are the rare successes while critiquing our handling of every case from your armchair in your Texas trailer park. I have hidden my compassion fatigue for you that lead to a catatonic, suicidal depression I committed myself to the mental hospital in Bangkok for, silently pretending that it was all OK so you would keep donating to feed the babies at the shelter I loved so much. I electively had my tonsils removed while in the loony bin because I couldn’t bear the thought of losing support for our new clinic just because I couldn’t stop wanting to drive my motorbike under a train. You want a hero for the animals as long as you do not have to see her as a human being with physical and emotional limits and needs that cost more than a few hundred bucks a month. You hero worship our unwilling sacrifice, then criticize us for breaking down from watching preventable suffering and death for a living while having no health care, no time off, no salary to survive on. I allowed the peanut gallery to tell me what mattered rather than the other way around because my animals’ lives and my livelihood depend on your approval. But this is what I learned about you in 8 years that has led me to requiring a hard, clean breakup from your bullshit.

I will no longer be your fucking martyr.

Me as a cat

You want us to rescue animals, but you don’t know what it means to rescue in Vietnam and you wouldn’t last an hour in our shoes watching preventable suffering and death with no support, no vets, no resources. You want us to take all the animals away from those bad, bad Vietnamese so you can canonize us, but you don’t know where you want us to put the animals and you do not know or care what it takes to keep them fed, vetted, and sheltered or safe from the thieves, diseases, and disasters that plague Vietnam. You want us to magically grow hair on every mangy dog and inject fat into skinny dogs and send them all off to a white family in the American suburbs so we can be your angels and you can shower us with praying hand emojis. You want us to get animal welfare laws on the books in a country you know fuck all about so you can feel like there is at least some kind of magical government backing in a country with no rule of law necessary for ending animal cruelty. You want us to continue to sell the fantasy that laws save animals even when you all can’t quit killing them for shits and giggles- especially in the West where animal suffering is heavily legislated and unnecessary murder for profit is still commonplace so we can keep feeding bacon to your fat asses and clogged arteries. You want us to take all the puppies and kitties from the “cruel and savage” Asians and put them on planes like the big organizations who shit money while you cannot be bothered to order the veggie burger instead of the murdered cow between buns in Anytown, USA/UK/Germany/Australia.

You want us to keep you entertained with the rescue gore porn that reminds you that it is someone else but never you that harms animals though your breakfast is made of parts of animals that all screamed in terror at their unnecessary deaths. You want us to fill your newsfeeds with pictures of adorable expats snuggling puppies on beaches in Vietnam so the White Savior insanity spreads far and wide and you can ship your gap year pain the ass off to believe that they, too, can save the fucking world in places where people have a different skin color than they do. You want us to stop being so negative while we scrub the blood out of our fingernails at 11pm before posting something your dumb fucking ass thinks is gory enough for you to bother donating to so we can feed our animals and keep the lights on. You want see only the happy shit, those kitten snuggle photos you crave in spite of those kittens growing up to be unadopted adults you don’t bother donating to feed or shelter. You beg for the success stories of which we have almost none, but only donate when we are absolutely fucked, days from being kicked to the curb with dozens of animals in a country in which we have neither legal rights nor community support. You crave the drama of crisis so we can kindly grant you your Savior Complex kick for the day, ignoring the fact that real live human beings are behind all this and living in nonstop stress and crisis has been scientifically proven to fucking kill you.

You want to tell me that salaries for people working in rescue who break their backs every day and piss blood from all the painkillers we take are a waste of money, expecting us all to be trust fund babies or anorexics working solely for the good of the animals while you are all murdering them anyway. Save a dog, shove a knife into a pig’s throat because that’s how “animal lovers” roll. You want my time, experience, education, and sanity to be free as a full time director of a nonprofit while I drown in the blood, sweat and tears that make up every hour of every day in rescue work in Vietnam. You want us to run solely on unpaid volunteer labor because yeah, every 22 year old backpacker with an drug problem who can’t go a night without a bar and a one night stand makes great staff running an animal shelter in Vietnam with zero experience and a decade away from being even close to mature or reliable.

You want us to protest against the dog meat trade but turn a blind eye and shut our fucking mouths when you toss 7 billion male chicks a year into a giant macerator the day they’re born so you never have to stop eating your Egg McMuffins. You want us to listen to your psychotic emailed rants for a $10 donation that I can piss away at the pet shop in 30 seconds flat, thinking your missed venti Starbucks mocha latte is worth me listening to your dumb fucking ideas with no punctuation and all capital letters of psychobabble. You want me to be told how to run my organization in a country you cannot find on a map because you saw a viral Facebook video of someone Asian looking beating a dog and now demand that we go fly there to this unknown location in our superman capes to beat some ass and steal a dog to bring back to a white family in Lacoste polos who speak English and drive a luxury mid-size SUV. You want us to end the dog meat trade, but do nothing to stop the ever growing population of unsterilized and unvaccinated dogs who will be culled with shotguns and strychnine once the disease outbreaks start after a toddler gets bitten by a rabid dog and dies a horrible and easily preventable death. You want us to buy dogs from the dog meat trade, taking trucks of them to some magical fucking island paid for by one of the many imaginary Russian oligarchs who fund us. You want to see hoards of animals in overcrowded shelters run by our free workers in a facility paid for by rainbows and giggles and sparkly emojis. You want us to save animals, but not with properly trained vets with education and experience and the need to eat, sleep, or sit down. You want us to have another island the size of Madagascar where all the kittens we magically save with no vets, medicine, or clinics to care for with go to roam freely, balls and uteruses and all. You want only the dumbest shit and I cannot be a party to this. You all have proven that you only want really stupid shit that is counterproductive to everything we do.

So what do I want?

I want to end animal suffering and to be honest with the public about how each and every one of us can stop contributing to it without people fleeing from our organization and cutting off all donations that feed our rescues. I want to stop being beholden to idiots and animal abusers for my ability to feed our rescues, pay our hard working staff, and to just fucking eat every day. I want to stop feeling like I do not matter when every day of this shit has been because of me and all my success and all my failures fall squarely on my head regardless of who approves of them or not. I want to never answer another fucking email or Facebook message for the rest of my life. I want to speak the truth without checking to the bank to see if we are too fucked financially for me to be honest today. I want to do my goddamn job without relying on the peanut gallery to approve of the programs I know and anyone with half a brain knows are scientifically proven to do the damn job. I want my ability to eat every day not to depend on whether everyone else and every other bill has been paid and that the animals, the rent, and the food is all squared away.

I want to do all I can to stop putting more domesticated animals on this planet. I want a mobile sterilization clinic that runs up and down the Vietnam and is staffed by international vets because fuck knows the Vietnamese vets have proven what a horror show their vet “skills” are. I want to boost the seaweed farming industry in Vietnam so we can stop destroying the sea and start giving back to it. I want to provide assistance to animal farmers that are willing to shift their production to solely plant farming. I want to ensure food security for Vietnam and the world by getting us the fuck off of animal agriculture that is killing animals, the planet, and human health.

Most of all, I want to never ever ask anyone for money ever again because donors have done nothing but keep us financially fucked as they support only the quick fixes and never support the programs that work for the long term. I want a divorce from the public because I no longer have faith in its ability to make intelligent policy decisions or to do anything with the animals best interest in mind.

I am not your entertainment. I am a hard working human that has given up too much and seen to much and has had far too much of this bullshit. I will not miss the peanut gallery. Time to get to the real work.



Cat Besch is a ferocious animal activist, pig snuggler, amateur vegan chef, and runner who is the founder and director of Vietnam Animal Aid and Rescue-US.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Catherine Besch

Cat Besch is a ferocious animal activist, pig snuggler, amateur vegan chef, and runner who is the founder and director of Vietnam Animal Aid and Rescue-US.