Veterinarians Reaching Underserved Populations
Reaching UP New Mexico – a partnership of the AVMA, the Native America Humane Society, and the communities that it serves – engages veterinarians to improve access to veterinary care among traditionally underserved Native American populations. Tribal populations have historically had minimal access to consistent veterinary care, which has led to overpopulation of companion animals, specifically dogs. This, in turn, harms animal health and welfare, public health, and the human animal bond.
Reaching UP advances animal health, animal welfare and public health by providing high-quality, high-volume (HQHV) spay and neuter and targeted preventive care services in these underserved areas. By combining HQHV spay/neuter with community healthcare education that emphasizes preventive pet healthcare, the program demonstrates the value of consistent, quality veterinary care, including the positive impact on public health and the human animal bond. It also demonstrates the connection between veterinary medicine and public health, and serves as a reminder of what drives so many veterinarians to enter the profession: the opportunity to improve the health and welfare of animals and people.
How the program works
Working through Reaching UP, AVMA member veterinarians specifically trained in high-quality/high-volume spay/neuter make multiple trips to the same area at strategic times, ensuring that we spay and neuter a sufficient number of animals to achieve population management goals while preserving a high standard of care. By talking with the pet owners about their animals’ health and the importance of preventive care, the veterinary staff also provides community education about the importance of pet wellness care, as well as the connections between animal health and human health.
Volunteerism is at the heart of the program. By tapping volunteer veterinarians and veterinary technicians, and eventually veterinary students, the program is able to provide high-quality veterinary care to communities that otherwise go unserved. The participating volunteers, meanwhile, are exposed to unique communities and have an opportunity to learn how differences in experiences, traditions, values, and socioeconomic conditions can affect a veterinarian’s ability to deliver veterinary care; foster creativity in delivering education and services; and increase appreciation of “One Health”.
Each Reaching UP clinic benefits greatly from 10-15 volunteer veterinarians and vet technicians who can assist in delivering preventive care and community education. AVMA members interested in a non-surgical volunteer position at an upcoming Reaching UP clinic should download the application, fill it out and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVMA members who would like to serve as volunteers should submit the student volunteer application. Veterinary students chosen as volunteers will be involved in pre-surgical assessment, anesthetic monitoring, and recovery processes, as well as community outreach and preventive care. Student volunteers receive food and lodging during the clinic as well as up to $500 toward travel costs.
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians with high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter experience can contact program coordinator Dr. Kendall Houlihan at email@example.com for an application to be considered for the surgical team for future clinics.
Thank you to the Banfield Foundation for funding the 2016 Reaching UP program. Reaching UP also has benefited from generous product donations from Ceva, Purina, Solvo, and Zoetis and historical funding by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF).
Related AVMA Resources
Policy: Dog and Cat Population Control
Policy: Veterinary Participation in Spay-Neuter Clinics