Overcoming Our Helplessness

Born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, I have seen my country progress from an underdeveloped, war-ravaged country to become one of the most rapidly developing nations in Southeast Asia. Almost everyone enjoys the benefits of modern communucation. We have instant and ubiquitous internet access, and hence, we expect all kinds of information to be available, immediately.

Nontheless, dogs in Vietnam are still not properly cared for. They rarely recieve veterinary treatment. The unfortunate among them are at risk of being stolen and sold to illegal dog traders. Although there are animal rights, veterinary clinics and hospitals, animal care is still a private, and expensive service. It relies exclusively on the veterinarian for help, and owner education and supplimentary resources which can come in handy in an emergency are not here yet.

So, our "modern" assumption that everything is at our fingertips works great, except for our pets. When found a stray dog right in front of my office I experienced something that proved to me how far we have to go.

Stray dogs are still somewhat a common sight in Vietnam. And this one was in bad shape. He seemed unable to walk and was cold. Based on his poor condition we approached to examine him, but weary of strangers, he growled when one of us held out his hand for him to sniff. One of us tried to pet him to warm him up, but he shook his body out of fear and beared his teeth. His hind legs were twitching as though he was trying to escape from an unknown threat. At that point, we had no other choice so we backed off. I did what I could and gave him a bowl of water and some food from my lunch. At first, he refused, but after overcoming his hesitation, with difficultly, he got up and wearily limped away.

Sadly, all we could be to him were uninformed, and maybe mostly unnecessary people. This small tradgedy proved to me that we are still missing out on some very essential community services and education. After our neighborhood stray moved on, I remembered my friend Mark Hofmann, one of the founders of DoggyDoc. DoggyDoc is creating an instant diagnosic tool that helps everyone learn about dogs. We need apps like this in Vietnam because instant access to expert information is highly necessary, especially for non-pet owners who sooner or later, will encounter a stray.

In the future, when a stray is in need of help, or threatened by illegal animal trading and abuse, even a passer-by can quickly ask about their symptoms, or go one step further and find out where the closest vetrenary clinic is. How would you react in such a situation? What if you unintentionally caused misfortune to those you were trying to help due to a lack of education?

With DoggyDoc we already have the ability to learn about how to work with dogs. In our case, we later found out some tips about how to detect animal dehydration. Accessing simple informaiton that helps us work with our dogs is a much better solution instead of what many do now–which is mostly shooing them away and abandoning them to dog thieves, or even worse, allowing them to become someone's meal. It's not just us, but our dogs too are ready for the next step in Vietnam's information evolution.