5th annual workshop on sustainable advocacy: consolidating foundations

More than forty five members of animal protection groups from all over China gathered early October 2010 to attend ACTAsia’s fifth annual workshop to build their capacity in working for animals in their country. Two workshops were held to increase the number of animal protectionists who could benefit from interaction with international experts and each other.


Isobel Zhang led sessions on the cruel dog and cat meat trade


Trade in dogs and cats

A major session focused on the cruel trade in dogs and cats across China for meat and fur, where innocent animals are bred or stolen, kept and transported in horrendous conditions and killed inhumanely. Following on from a discussion about San Hua, the first Chinese documentary on the dog and cat meat trade, ACTAsia’s China Manager Isobel Zhang spoke about the different reasons groups use to campaign against the abuse in this industry. She also discussed the research that has been done, and potential strategies that could be used. Action plans for various elements of the dog and cat meat trade were addressed and everyone agreed that further research was required. ACTAsia offered to facilitate a working group on this issue if the groups were interested.



Abodh Aras on the excellent volunteer programme by WSD


Volunteer management This was a subject extremely relevant to all the participants, as most of them come from allvolunteer groups, manage volunteers and are also volunteers themselves. As their core activities are all done by volunteers, learning how to recruit the right kinds of volunteers, motivate them and reduce turnover were covered in this session. They recognised the need for finding more volunteers who had specific skills and utilising them more effectively. Abodh Aras, the facilitator, runs a successful animal protection organisation in India: ‘Welfare of Stray Dogs’. He gave participants advice, templates and procedures that could help them to professionalise their volunteer programme.



All participants presented posters on their campaigns 


Public outreach and campaigning These sessions had a very practical focus, and included the analysis of a public outreach programme by one of the participating groups. Attendees offered a lot of suggestions for improvements. Different methods of outreach were discussed, as well as the positives and negatives of each and the need to determine on a target audience. It was very encouraging to note that this year’s participants are already thinking along the lines of broader campaigns with different target groups, including the government, corporations and the media.

Experienced researcher and campaigner Rob Laidlaw from ZooCheck shared his knowledge

Need for proper research Although some research is being undertaken by different groups on their issues, there are still some basics to be learnt about accurate and clear research. Based on a case study brought in by one of the groups, it was again demonstrated how essential it is to have proper research in order to take effective action. It was also very helpful as the participants started discussing the role of the government in animal rescue and control, and how to use existing laws to solve the current problems.

Interactive workshop important

As Xia Chenxue from Shenzhen Cats put it: “The training is excellent because it helps us to change our concepts and to learn new knowledge and methods. When we encounter problems in our work, we can find the answers or direction through the workshop and the proper methods to tackle the issues. The opportunity to meet many other animal protectionists from different parts of China is also very valuable. We then learn from each other.”

Class of 2010: sustainable animal advocacy in China

Funding organisations from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia have become involved to help Chinese groups to build a humane and harmonious society without animal suffering and cruelty. This programme has been kindly sponsored by Animals Asia Foundation, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Winsome Constance Kindness Trust and World Society for the Protection of Animals.