Indigenous Animal Health Programme - Update

We have recently completed our first full year of health clinics as part of our IAHP project. Working in the Shepparton and Lake Tyres regions of South Australia, we are providing free health clinics, spay/neuter services and animal welfare education to indigenous communities. The communities have no access to veterinary services, so this truly is a life-saving project.

During the clinics this year, we have provided advice and treatment for skin conditions, carried out lump checks, provided ear cleaning and treatment, and gave veterinary care for many open wounds. Each dog that the team meets is micro-chipped, is given tick and flea treatment and vaccinations for canine distemper, parvo and adenovirus. We also give all dog owners a ‘goody bag’ that has been donated by our corporate sponsors and contains a collar, a leash, a grooming brush, some pet food and pet toys.

We aim to spay/neuter 80% of the dog population in the region over the next 3 years and we are well on track to achieve this. Our veterinary team are also on hand to carry out emergency surgical operations if required and this year we have seen operations for lump removal, correcting umbilical hernias and removing decayed and rotten teeth.

This year we have partnered with Dr Duane Hamacher, who is an Associate Professor at Melbourne University. Together we are developing a programme that combines animal welfare training, with the shared Indigenous knowledge about animal behaviours that are reflected in the sky. Our talks combine visual elements and practical sessions that include the use of telescopes to identify the constellations in the stories being told. This very unique method of education is much more effective than the standard approach and the feedback so far has been incredibly positive. Exciting plans for building on the work carried out so far and launching to a much larger audience are well underway for 2020 and will be released shortly.

We are committed to working in the Shepparton and Lake Tyres regions for the next 3 years, but there is also a lot of interest for us to expand the project in to other indigenous communities, both in the State of Victoria and elsewhere in Australia. We have already been contacted by several indigenous communities and local councils with invitations to work in their areas and have conducted two recce trips to carry out viability assessments. A new location has been identified and planning and preparations are in the final stages for a launch in 2020, subject to funding requirements.

This project would not be possible without the continued support of our project partners Dogs Trust, University of Melbourne and East Bentleigh Veterinary Clinic. From all of us at Wildlife & Welfare, THANK YOU!!

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