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  • Writer's pictureSleepy Dog Veterinary

Reflections: The Human Animal Bond



I decided to volunteer for the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) after reading about and pondering the deep inequities in human and animal health care across the globe and across our nation.  RAVS has a long history of helping underserved communities in veterinary care deserts across the nation with an educated and culturally sensitive approach.  After my phone interview with one of the coordinators, who assured me that I could still be helpful in a non-surgical role, I was excited and committed to make it work.  As an enthusiastic vet in a career made for me, I was also happy to help teach those beginning their careers or trying to enter our field.

My first foray was with the Three Affiliated Nations in Fort Berthold, North Dakota.  Two planes and a beautiful car ride later, I arrived in a lush, green, hilly area of the world I hadn’t previously conceived of.  The natural beauty was augmented by a man-made lake that had years before eliminated the cultural center of the three tribes for the mere convenience of white political leaders in the area.  This information was the first of many hard to hold historical facts that has led me to only to want to commit even more to help when I am able.  

My second trip was to the Apache Nation, east of Phoenix, Arizona.  There the snow peaked mountains ringed the reservation and contrasted the small buildings and homes.  The nearest veterinarian was one hour away and not able to take any new patients.  RAVS, the Arizona Humane Society and the Geronimo Animal Rescue Team filled in wherever they could to get the animals the care they needed.  The animals and people were deeply affected by regional tick borne and fungal diseases of which we saw many victims.

Each morning, starting around 7am, the cars would start lining up in the parking lots of each location.  Loving pet parents would put their pets on a list and wait, some times for hours, for teams of veterinarians, technicians, students and support professionals to come examine dogs by the side of their car.  Vaccines, deworming, other necessary treatments and admissions for spay and neuters would follow.  

The days were filled to the brim with outpatient and surgical care.  Creative solutions for tricky problems or lack of standard treatment abilities were common.  Teaching and learning abounded, team members cared for each other in between caring for patients and their parents.  Sleep was earned and started on the early side each night.

Not having access to veterinary care does not preclude loving human animal bonds. Human after human in these communities welcomed into their under resourced homes animals that needed shelter, food and love.  Human after human took a day off of work or brought a car full of kids in their care in order to be able to get the care they needed.

Please help me spread the word on these amazing organizations and consider a donation to help them continue their missions.

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