Changing Perspectives in Tanzania, One Dog at a Time
Noodles is just one of 190 dogs at Every Living Thing sanctuary, but he represents the hope that things are getting better
Noodles looks like what most locals would describe as a typical Tanzanian street dog: slim body, light-coloured fur, and big pointy ears. According to Brittany Hilton, founder of Every Living Thing animal sanctuary in Tanzania, however, Noodles is extra special. To Hilton, Noodles symbolizes changing cultural attitudes towards dogs in the region, and the great hope she has for the additional 189 dogs under the sanctuary’s care. While just a few years ago, dogs in Tanzania were used almost exclusively for guarding: kept in cages all day, let out only at night, and seen as aggressive, scary and disposable, Hilton says that is now changing. And Noodles’ story proves it.
Hilton, who hails from Toronto, Canada, originally set off to Tanzania with plans to complete an internship with the Jane Goodall Institute. What was supposed to be a six-month trip has turned into a six-year stay, including four years in the Goodall home, which Hilton says acted as her first animal shelter.
“I definitely got distracted from what I was supposed to be doing here with the Jane Goodall Institute,” she says, “because everywhere I went, every meeting I went to, every restaurant I went to, I saw cats and dogs, and they were all suffering. I couldn’t just walk by them. I couldn’t get to where I was going without picking up an animal.” So Hilton started bringing them home to Goodall’s. “At some point I had forty cats, twenty or thirty dogs, rescued from the streets, at her house,” she says. Eventually, Goodall helped Hilton raise funds to open what is now Every Living Thing animal sanctuary, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, along with Hilton’s partners Robert Oberressl and Nathaniel Weiss
Hilton says there is a common misconception about Tanzanians being cruel to animals. “It’s just not true.” Rather, she says, “the abuse that happens here is neglect. But it all comes down to resources. The majority of the population here is living in poverty,” so caring for animals is hard to prioritize, and thus the daily site of animal suffering was…