For THE HUMANE SOCIETY VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION INC
When I was a senior in college, I volunteered abroad in an extremely impoverished rural mountain community in Honduras. The people there largely lived in one-room houses with dirt floors, no electricity and no running water. Our group set out with the expectation that we would spend a week working on building projects that would sustainably improve the public health of the community. What happened was that we were all humbled by the vast disparity between our lives and the life of the average Honduran, and came back to the US with the understanding that a few short days can change everything.
While in Honduras, I helped build latrines to reduce contamination of the same water the locals used for cooking, bathing and drinking; pilas (water storage tanks) that enabled families to ride out the half-year drought they faced every year; clean-burning stoves to prevent the respiratory diseases that came from years of breathing smoke; and cement floors so that children didn't have to grow up playing in dirt even inside their own homes. But I also recognized for the first time the way that dogs carried fleas and other parasites into the people's homes, making families more susceptible to Chagas disease and other insect-borne illnesses. I realized that animal and human health were, truly, connected.
So, what does any of this have to do with my trip to San Carlos, AZ this summer? Fast forward to the present: I am finishing off my first year of vet school at Midwestern University. A lot has changed for me since that trip to Honduras, but I still believe that a few days can change everything. In an underserved area, animals can be a burden on the local community. Veterinary health problems without solutions, even more mouths to feed and animal-borne diseases make it hard for even the best pet owners to enjoy the benefits of the human-animal bond.
The Apache reservation in San Carlos is as close to a third-world country as you can get within in the borders of the United States. Veterinary care is nearly nonexistant, and the need is great. But I have the opportunity to spend 5 days helping as many people and as many pets as I can, and growing as a future doctor. I will get to help good pet owners care for their animals the way they want to, so they can focus on enjoying their pets the way so many others do. Unlike my trip to Honduras, this trip costs next to nothing. But we're fundraising for supplies and to support the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the organization that saves thousands of animal lives every year and made this trip possible.
Thank you for your support!
In May of 2015, HSVMA-RAVS staff and volunteers will travel to eastern Arizona for 5 days of field clinics on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The team of 30 veterinary students and 15 professional volunteers will offer free spay/neuter and wellness care to more than 500 animals in these remote communities where regular veterinary care is not available.
In addition to wellness services, RAVS’ volunteers will care for animals with a wide range of health concerns including puppies suffering from parvovirus and distemper infections and animals with life-threatening tick-borne illnesses. We will continue our work aiding local tribal health efforts to eradicate Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - improving the health and welfare of both animals and people in need.