Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Story to Share: Perceptions of Animals and Pets in Laos

The following is more of what I saw on how animals were treated while in Laos.  It's not so much a story as it's simply my observations I thought I'd share with readers.

In Laos, a lot people (although certainly not all Lao people) have a low opinion of animals. There's no real idea of animal protection or rights as compared to more developed countries.  Depending on where you stand on this issue, you may or may not agree with that situation.

  • Dogs and cats are the most common pets, with chickens being a third favorite though they are raised as livestock so perhaps they might not count.
     
  • Having pets inside the house is seen as being dirty.  Pets are often kept outside the home.  I've only ever seen cats come inside the home.
     
  • Pets freely roam the streets and neighborhoods.  So you'll see dogs wondering the streets.  For the most part these dogs are usually docile.  However, the more protective or aggressive dogs are what you have to be careful about.  In particular, I've experienced a few times while driving my motorcycle that they try to run up and bite your leg.  Never slow down if they try to attack.  You have to speed up.  It's difficult for them to bite while trying to run quickly.
     
  • Spending quality time with ones pet was not the norm from what I saw.  I saw some petting of animals but not much.
     
  • Medical or veterinarian care for pets is typically not done unless there's something wrong.  Vet doctors do exist in Laos though.
     
  • If a dog attacks a person, you can complain to the owner or the village leader.  I've seen in cases like this, you can pay the person off or agree to put the dog down (euthanize) it.  If a person is bitten, they're usually taken to the doctor to get a rabies shot at the pet owner's expense.
     
  • Dogs are typically kept only to help protect the home and act as a deterrent to would be robbers.
     
  • Hitting an animal is accepted if there's a reason like defending yourself or if you're trying to scare it away or attempting to make it obedient.
     
  • Eating dog?  Though this exists in Laos, it's not common.  It tends to be Vietnamese or Chinese people who eat dog or offer dog meat for food.
     
  • Water buffalo are popular livestock as well.  They produce a lot of meat and can help on the rice paddy fields in plowing the fields.  I've heard, though I cannot be 100% sure, that the method for slaughter is a gunshot to the head.  All the meat and parts that are consumed by buyers is in part why it's such a valuable animal.  In the old days, if you had a lot of buffaloes you were considered rich.  Even to this day, there's still a bit of that perception that still exists.
     
  • Fighting cocks (chickens) raising and using them in fights and gambling still exists widely in Laos and Southeast Asia.
     
  • The meat market or butcher shops in Laos are quite interesting.  As a person who loves food and will try anything once, you can bet this will test your limits.  Lao people hunt and eat just about anything that can be found in the forest.  So you'll see all sorts of animals.  The exotic examples include snakes, different birds, large rodents, rats, squirrels, bats, baby bird eggs, frogs, and all kinds of animal inners and guts for sale, not just the meat - because that would be a waste!
     
  • Meat is fresh though and often slaughtered or caught that day.  However note that in the market there's often no refrigeration.  Best time to buy meat is right in the morning when it's freshest and hasn't been sitting out in the sun all day.

-  Submitted by VM

1 comment:

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