When your pet needs routine care, such as a wellness check, vaccinations, or deworming, or is ill or injured, you call your veterinary clinic, make an appointment, and hop into the car to take Fido or Fluffy to see your veterinarian. In some cases, your pet is seen the same the day! What if you lived in a remote community? It doesn’t matter where you live; your pet still needs veterinary care, and many remote communities simply do not have accessible services.
While more than half of the world’s population is settled in cities, much of the population lives in rural areas, and many of these areas are remote.
Several charitable organizations have developed programs to help pet owners provide veterinary care to their pets in these under-served communities. Such organizations include the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Canadian Animal Assistance Team, Global Vets, Veterinarians Without Borders, Veterinaries Sans Frontieres International, Tree of Life for Animals, The Mad Dog Initiative, Save a Dog Network, and Friends of Animush.
These organizations work with corporate partners as well as raise funds from the general public to be able to travel to remote locations around the world. Teams are deployed to visit remote communities in Madagascar, Zanzibar, St Lucia, Guatemala, Turks and Caicos, India, Nunavut, and Northern Ontario, to name a few. Partnerships have been developed with band councils and village leaders in communities that have identified the need to prevent over-population and the related spread of disease, as well as provide education on the topics of animal care and behavior.
Because dog overpopulation can be a problem in remote communities, offering spay and neuter surgeries for both domestic and feral (or stray) dogs is an important strategy to contend with this issue. Many dogs and cats in remote communities are unvaccinated and have never been dewormed. This poses a public health risk to the people living in these communities. Offering vaccination and deworming programs in remote communities reduces the spread of disease in both domestic and stray animals, thereby reducing the risk in the human members of the community, particularly those who, due to their own lack of accessible care, may be especially vulnerable.
Animal welfare education such as the importance of bathing and grooming pets, safe animal handling (e.g., to prevent bites and scratches), how to provide food and shelter, and animal behavior and training techniques helps children learn important and transferrable life skills. It also creates a link between the health and well-being of the animals and the health and well-being of the people.
When a natural disaster, such as forest fire, strikes, remote communities may be caught in an emergency evacuation, needing to leave their pets behind. Teams of veterinarians and veterinary technicians are deployed to provide care for those animals that may be injured or sick, as well as thirsty and hungry. Coming home to an area devastated by fire is difficult enough, but losing your pet to injury or illness is even more difficult. These teams of veterinary healthcare professionals help to ensure that even those in a remote community get the care they need for their pets after a natural disaster.
Many veterinarians and veterinary technicians volunteer their time to travel to remote locations to provide animal care and education to pet owners and the general community. Healthy pets are happy pets and happy pets lead to a healthy, happy community. Supporting these initiatives is easy! Financial donations, or donations of pet food and supplies, are welcomed by most organizations. Even spreading the word on social media is a way to help improve the health and welfare of both the animals and people who live in remote global communities.