Vets Perform 200 Spay/Neuter Surgeries in 3 Days During Huge Animal Care Clinic
March 17, 12:35 AM
Minneapolis Pets Examiner
Three days, two veterinarians, a mobile surgical hospital called "the Neuter Commuter" and a couple of dozen volunteers resulted in about 200 spay/neuter surgeries for animals on the Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota last week. The effort was one of a series of clinics being coordinated in order to help the poverty-stricken community address dire animal welfare concerns.
“When people live in poverty, the people and their animals suffer,” said Mary Salter of Animal Ark, one of the coordinators of the project.
By anyone’s measure, the residents of the Red Lake Reservation are some of the most impoverished in the state of Minnesota. The per capita income there was estimated at just over $8,000 in 1999. All of the conditions that come with poverty are rampant on the reservation including violence, drugs and crime.
In 1863 the Pembina and Red Lake Bands of Ojibwa Native Americans signed the Treaty of Old Crossing. This ensured their sovereignty on their land. It also made them some of the most isolated humans in Minnesota.
“When we first started visiting the reservation a few years ago,” said Salter, “the situation was pretty dire.”
Packs of feral dogs roaming the fields and dead dogs and cats along the road were commonplace. However, after a few years of hard work and several spay/neuter clinics in which hundreds of animals have been sterilized, people are starting to see improvements.
“Things are clearly changing up there,” added Salter.
According to some volunteers, residents of the reservation now look forward to the clinics and begin lining up for services hours before they are open in the morning.
“We open the gates at 8 AM. But, there are usually people lining up starting by 6:30,” Salter said.
The days were long, generally running well into the evening hours. In addition to spay/neuter surgeries, staff and volunteers from Animal Ark and Akin Hills Pet Hospital in Farmington handled a variety of emergency situations - a dog that had been hit by a car - a mother dog with hypothermic puppies. They also provided needed vaccinations, ear cleanings, nail-trimmings and other services.
Dogs and cats that required more medical care than could be provided during the 3 day clinic were taken back to the Twin Cities where Animal Ark and Akin Hill Pet Hospital are providing the care they need. Once they are recovered, they will be available for adoption.
The animals on the reservation live in a very communal environment and tend to be very well socialized to people and other animals.
Three more clinics are scheduled for this year. Volunteers and donations are needed. If you would like to help, visit the Animal Ark web site.