Monday, July 15, 2013

Another goodbye, this time from the Animal Rescue Center

When we moved to Bangkok, I was quite sad to leave the Animal Rescue Center behind. Although I wasn't legally in charge and just doing some PR work, I was emotionally involved. It was always a dream to support, or even run a center like this. So I was quite happy that Trevor Freeman told me he wants to open one. It took a while to find a suitable place, and even longer to set up at least basic infrastructure there. When I left Laos, it was just good enough to take in emergency cases (it has changed over time, facilities are much better). But there was always some disagreement about priorities. While I was insisting it is a rescue center, the owners were focussing on the commercial part, the dog hotel. It made some sense, since donations were really low, and the dog hotel brought some income. Also, I didn't like the way the hotel dogs were kept, most of the time on a leash or in a small cage, and adressed this before we left Laos. It seems now that the Rescue part totally failed. There are some kittens, but thats it. The focus is now on not only the hotel, but also breeding, something I never wanted (the first puppies I was told were an accident. Now I know it was intentional). I don't think that money went into the wrong channels. As you can see at the center, a lot of work was done. Also, Foxy, the small dog who didn't make it and the kittens needed medical care, that doesn't come for free. But, I never had an insight to the accounting books. Beside the "you can see whenever you want" no other action was taken to actually show me the numbers. Still, I believe that the donations were used for the center (I know it at least for the time when I was still there). But I think the focus shifted from a rescue center to a business (what it is formally, a company, but that was done to set it up quickly and not having some greedy officials sitting next to you). Recent developments and the way they were handled by the owner and manager of the center raised concerns. Doubts came about integrity, but also about my role. It doesn't make sense to be involved in something when you only have to execute. So I decided to leave this project. It is up to you, dear reader, to support the center or not. But before you do it, go there, have a look by yourself, and ask what the money is specifically used for. Just to get a better picture. Or insist on the use of the money. Laos doesn't have a center like this, and it needs one. The US Embassy support the WWF Wildlife Center with 50.000 USD, while the LARC never got a single dollar from them. Dogs are left to die when they are sick in Laos, and that should not be the case. Also, we just had not enough money to start educational programs. I know that Paws4thoughts are working on that, and wish them Good Luck with it.

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