AVMA, AVMF exploring project on Sioux reservations

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The AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation are exploring development of Reaching UP, a program to reach underserved populations of people and animals on Sioux reservations by providing surgical sterilization of companion animals and other veterinary services.

The AVMA Executive Board, while meeting April 7-9, approved development of Reaching UP, on the recommendation of the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President with the support of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. The AVMF plans to fund the program. The initial investment would be $110,000 in 2012, with an annual operating cost ranging from about $35,000 for one reservation to $85,000 for three reservations.

The AVMA's Reaching UP program would build on an existing project initiated on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 2002 to address the problem of homeless dogs and the resulting adverse impacts on public health. A high-volume sterilization clinic was held on the reservation in 2003 and again in 2004.

Efforts in 2005 were expanded by holding additional clinics, arranging transportation, and accepting unwanted animals for appropriate disposition. In 2006, owners who had brought in animals for sterilization began to return to the clinics seeking additional veterinary services.

The AVMA seeks to enhance the ongoing project in collaboration with tribal health officials.