Get to know the town: Katelyn Meadows

Milford resident Katelyn Meadows recently traveled to Thailand to learn more about veterinary medicine and animal care. Learn more about Katelyn in this week’s Get to know the town feature.

Name: Katelyn Meadows

Age: 23-years- old

Hometown: Newport, but currently living in Milford

Educational background: Some college

Occupation: Pet store employee

Future goals: Currently looking to take veterinarian training with a specialization in large cats; hoping to also achieve a minor in agriculture.

Tell us about yourself?

“I take care of my eight kitties and new puppy whom I got from Thailand. I’m working towards buying a house so I can start my own small farm.”

Why did you choose to work with animals?

“I chose to work with animals because they bring me such joy. Deep down, I have a connection with them that is undeniable. They need a voice and I will be their voice to bring peace to the way we coexist with the animals around us. We should live among them not rule over them.”

You have pets of your own?

“I have 8 cats: Sabastian, Sabor, Anna Sophia, Bellfire, Cloude, Kiari, Koa, Luci; and a dog: Sapphira, previously known as Happy.”

Why did you go to Thailand?

“I went to Thailand to receive education and hands- on experience that I could not have gotten here in the United States because of limitations. The program I was in is called ‘Loop Abroad.’ They have many programs that teach various subjects. Without it, I would not have gotten to experience Thailand like I did. Thank you, Loop! I went to take in the culture and learn how the people respond to animals around them. I loved Thailand and wish to revisit many more times. Such a beautiful world full of green; something I wish I saw everywhere I went.”

What did you do while you were there?

“ Vaccinations, blood draws, physical exams, assisted in multiple surgeries, completed dietary plans and cared for extensive wounds on small and large animals. I would not have had this opportunity here in the states without a degree. But in Thailand, if you will be the hands and feet, you learn so much and are able to be the hope.”

Tell us about the dog shelter?

“The dog shelter was called ARK, this place was full of hope. Regardless of the animals’ situation, they beamed all because of the people who showered them with love. Here, the medical treatment is not highend like we see at home. But it shows the depth of love the people have for all creatures as they improvise and scrounge to provide the medical assistance needed to help all the animals that come through. I had the opportunity to be submerged in this world and it showed me where I belong in God’s large world. My purpose is to speak and stand up for the creatures our creator put here.”

Tell us about the Elephant Nature Preserve?

“Speaking of dogs, at the Elephant Nature Park, I got to adopt a female puppy and bring her home. Her name was Happy, probably because she’s such a happy girl, but I named her Sapphira. The ENP was the other place I had been which was in the middle of the Thai jungle. It rained at about 3 o’clock every day and the animals were free.

“It is a sanctuary for all the abused and taken advantage of elephants that my role model Lek had built with her own hands. Starting from nothing she made this place a refuge for elephant of all walks of life. Trekking, circus elephants, street begging elephants, logging elephants… any elephant that was being used for simply being. Starting very small, the ENP has become a home not only for the many elephant but also water buffalo and dogs. There is also a cat kingdom. It’s like a sanctuary village where people live in peace with the world around them instead of reigning over like a God.”

Why is the Elephant Nature Preserve still needed?

“Now, even though most things the elephants are used for are banned, it still lingers in the depths of Thailand for many. Some of these people only know how to provide for their families or find work this way. Or they don’t have the knowledge we have about the issues the elephants are facing in these dire situations. So not only does Lek save, but she educates the people, provides the medical care needed and tries to give alternatives to using and abusing the elephants. Many do not know that elephants that are tame have been taken from their mothers before their even done nursing and locked into a wooden cage that literally crushes their body and spirit. To have control, they are starved, beaten and tied down for weeks so they fear the leader. I had the opportunity to see the evil and witness the trauma these beautiful creatures endure.”

How did your visit compare to life in the United States?

“One of my favorite things about the atmosphere is that it was dirty and gritty. It was rough, hot and ugly but, through all of that, it was beautiful. Here in the U.S., they hide all the ‘imperfections’ and just show people what they want to see. But the truth lies behind that curtain. It lies deep in the suffering of the world around us and therefore brings you so much closer to the miracles you can be a part of. I’d much rather be in the middle of the jungle with no power and no running water giving all that I am to better the world around me than in a clean facility where we turn people away who may not have the means to pay for our services. We can learn a lot from the countries that surround us and take the hearts of the people and expand so much more instead of the little that we do. My favorite experience was to be in the middle of chaos and still see the beauty. I was not judged off of what I knew but schooled on what I could do.”

What was your least favorite part?

“Honestly my least favorite was having to return home, back to a world where I have to prove to the people around me that I am worthy of being an advocate for the creatures we have instead of doing the work and learning, I waste my time proving to the people around me that I can do the work. This is an issue because it limits what we actually get done and it limits our ability to heal.”

How has this experience impacted you?

“This experience was beyond words. I cherish every moment I had spent in Thailand. I want to be a large cat specialist overseas. I am going to finish my education with a masters in veterinarian studies and a minor in agriculture. I want to cherish the simple things because the Thai people showed me that those are the things that make the big picture so alive and so precious. I will be an advocate for the animals and especially cats because they are my special connection. I will speak because they cannot and I will protect them. I will open the eyes of the people around me and let them witness some of the things I have. We all deserve to live in peace because that is why God put us on this earth together: to live in a peaceful harmony. I pray to bring that back to the world. We should be living in unity, not trying to rule over the other beasts because we want to play God.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I am not sure where my dreams and endeavors will lead me in the next five years, but I know God has a plan for my heart and that my Thailand trip was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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