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It's A Dog's Life!

I traveled to Thailand to do two months of volunteer work for Rescue P.A.W.S, which is an organization dedicated to reducing the population of stray dogs in Thailand. It was while I was there that I was able to see certain cultural differences that made me question the work that I was doing and the motivation behind it..

I traveled to Thailand to do two months of volunteer work for Rescue P.A.W.S, which is an organization dedicated to reducing the population of stray dogs in Thailand. It was while I was there that I was able to experience certain cultural differences that made me question the work that I was doing and the motivation behind it. However, learning to look at it from a different perspective, made me change my mind.

“... in Thailand, dogs are considered the lowest form of life. They believe that if you are an awful person or do awful things in this life, you will come back as a dog in your next life. This belief puts dogs in the position to be mistreated and abandoned, and that’s exactly what happens..”

This all stemmed from the fact that I was raised to believe that animals are like people — they have feelings, they need the basic essentials of life, and they want love. I believe that depriving animals of these things is wrong, so for the past couple of years, I have worked towards spreading awareness about the abuse and neglect of animals by doing community service work in the United States, and by sharing my experiences with others. It was only while working at Rescue P.A.W.S. that I was able to widen my view of this subject to encompass an international and intercultural perspective.


I saw the mistreatment of monkeys, bears, elephants, and of course, dogs, and it broke my heart, but I had to learn what allowed this to be tolerated in Thailand, and inspired me to open up and find out more about animal cruelty worldwide. For instance, in Thailand, dogs are considered the lowest form of life. They believe that if you are an awful person or do awful things in this life, you will come back as a dog in your next life. This belief puts dogs in the position to be mistreated and abandoned, and that’s exactly what happens.

I had to really consider this belief in order to understand the mis-treatment of dogs in Thailand. And, I had to find a way to address this in terms of the cultural norms, so that the Thai people I interacted with would more fully understand our viewpoint as the dog rescuers! Those who I did talk to showed me that the Thai people are generous listeners and capable of change. They could have easily dismissed our mission as fruitless and stupid. They could have ignored us. They could have vandalized our facility. Instead, they offered their assistance to us. They donated food. They spread our words to their friends and family. We ended up working together for a common cause! Before coming Thailand, I would have never thought that there were cultural beliefs in place that regarded dogs as the lowest form of life. We can’t always assume that animal cruelty and abuse is the same everywhere, so it is important that we take cultural differences into consideration when we are trying to change the way people think and act. Not taking those differences into account is where we have our downfalls. Accepting those differences is how we grow. ~~ EMILY NAN EVANS (Global Citizen Scholar, 2017)

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