As you know, ARVO works hard to provide veterinary and S/N services to as many villages as we can with our limited financial and human resources. Thanks to our supporters, ARVO’s clinics have helped hundreds of animals. We have learned a lot - about the challenges and rewards of rural veterinary medicine, the dire need for these services, and the health benefits for animals, people, and communities. But, we have also learned that rural companion animal populations often return to their previous high levels without more regular and frequent clinics
I am honored to tell you about a special opportunity presented to ARVO this year by the American SPCA. Thanks to their generous sponsorship, ARVO will conduct a pilot program to provide targeted, consistent vet care to one village in one borough where no veterinary service is available. This pilot program will replicate a long-term successful spay/neuter and wellness care model in Utquiagvik (previously known as Barrow), which is funded through the North Slope Borough’s public health funds. Dr. Sara Colburn, former veterinarian in Utquiagvik, is very supportive and has provided valuable information about their success and positive results providing 2 clinics a year to each of 7 rural villages in that borough.
With guidance and oversight from ASPCA’s Dr. Tami McReynolds, DVM, Senior Director, Northern Tier Shelter Initiative, we have selected Selawik as our participating village. Located about 90 miles SE of Kotzebue, Selawik has a population of 900-1000, and a dire need for veterinary services. It is one of 12 “satellite” villages to Kotzebue that receive health services from Maniilaq (Health) Association. ARVO has enthusiastic support and participation by Maniilaq’s Environmental Health Department as well as from the Tribal Administrator for the Native Village of Selawik.
ARVO will fly a veterinary team and all supplies to conduct 3 clinics within a 12 month period in Selawik. Accurate data will be collected, and filed with ASPCA. Our mutual goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness of establishing funded, ongoing veterinary clinics as part of human health programs in rural hubs, with the veterinary staff making regular visits to remote surrounding villages 2 or 3 times a year. This project has the potential to support a sustainable veterinary care program in that region, and like Utquiagvik, serve as a model for development of similar programs for other areas of the state.
Thank you. I look forward to keeping you informed about our progress.
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