Desert Animal Companions of the Navajo Nation

Spay/Neuter Partnership, Kayenta, July 12 - 16, 2004

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Spay/Neuter Partnership Delivers Animal Services to Kayenta

Girl and dogThe Spay/Neuter Partnership came to Kayenta the week of July 12 - 16, 2004, under the banner of "Healthy Animals, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities." The partnership brings together several organizations from Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico that provide an array of much needed animal services focusing on free spay/neuter, low-cost vaccinations, and humane education. Animal overpopulation is a problem that contributes to animal starvation and suffering, the spread of disease, dogs running in packs, and the threat of dog bites to people. Widespread spay/neuter services and responsible pet ownership offer a solution to these problems.

Normally, the closest veterinary services to Kayenta are in Tuba City or in Page, 90 miles away. (Dr. Bahe of Tuba City Veterinary Clinic comes to Tom's Feed Store parking lot in Kayenta on Wednesdays; the focus of his practice is mostly large animals.) Incidents of parvo and distemper for dogs and feline leukemia for cats are common. Mange, infestations of brown dog tick, and other parasites are also common. Female cats who are not spayed may go into heat as often as every few weeks, dogs twice a year, and the population of homeless animals just keeps growing. This creates a serious problem for community health.

Vaccinations In response to this need, trucks and staff of the mobile spay/neuter units travel long distances to provide services. The dedicated crews and veterinarians overcome many challenges and hazards. The Arizona Humane Society traveled up from Phoenix, with veterinarian Dr. Derek Osterheld on board. Plateauland Mobile Veterinary Clinic came from Flagstaff, with veterinarian Dr. Carol Holgate, who also maintains her own practice in Tuba City, and Paula Johns, Director of Operations. SNAP traveled from Albuquerque, NM, with veterinarian Dr. Jean Wolfgang and Claudia Roll, Southwest Program Manager.

All services were provided from the parking lot of the Kayenta Chapter House. The Kayenta community gave a great response to the services. Clients lined up early in the morning for the free spay/neuter surgeries and each day the trucks were full. Throughout the day, people kept stopping by for the low-cost vaccination packages. During the week in Kayenta, clinics had to deal with flat tires, awnings whipped by wind and dust, and the failure of a generator on the SNAP unit which forced the crew to stop performing surgeries a day earlier than planned. The groups shifted and shared the load on Thursday, which allowed all animals on board the trucks to receive their surgeries.

The total number of surgeries performed this week by all groups combined was 203 with over 400 vaccinations given. The free surgeries and low-cost vaccinations are made possible by grants sought by the groups.

Humane Education Sherry Woodard, animal behaviorist, and Cathie Myers, Director of Humane Education, traveled from Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, UT. They provided free collar and I.D. tags for cats and dogs, answered animal behavior questions, and distributed humane education literature. They also demonstrated use of pet care products, such as flea protection and coat combs, that could be purchased locally at Bashas. Groups of children from the Boys and Girls Club visited the Humane Education booth, participating in exercises designed to increase awareness of responsible pet care. Over the course of three days, more than 300 dog and cat collars were distributed and more than 200 I.D. tags. Tova Salabye, outreach coordinator for SNAP, worked the tag machine and helped a line of people waiting for I.D. tags. Tova is also the Program Coordinator for the Navajo Nation Puppy Adoption Program. Her position and program is grant funded with support from The Pegasus Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Arizona Humane Society. Patty Finch and Robin Mason, both from PETsMART Charities in Phoenix, also volunteered with the humane education booth.

Staff helps with collars Local volunteer Frank Ramsey assisted the veterinary technicians all week with the SNAP clinic. Frank is working with Kayenta Township to open an animal shelter in Kayenta next year. Volunteer Rose Moonwater assisted Plateauland Mobile Veterinary Clinic. Volunteers working with the clinics provide information to clients and help clinics spread their services even further.

A similar week of services was provided in May in Shiprock and was an overwhelming success. The groups hope to provide more such events. All services are coordinated through the Navajo Nation Veterinary & Livestock Program, under the direction of Glenda Davis, Program Manager. Chapter houses that want to receive similar services should contact Glenda Davis, at (928) 871-6615.

New collar, leash and I.D. tag Thanks to all the service providers, the community of Kayenta, and the Navajo Nation for a successful week!

Combined schedules for the spay/neuter providers can be found here.

All Photos courtesy of Patty Finch, PETsMART Charities.

The story continues here about what happened in Kayenta following the clinic services week.

While every effort has been made to insure reliable and accurate information, any errors or omissions are the sole responsibility of the webmaster, Rose Z. Moonwater.