Clinic helps pets and their human companions in Red Lake

Betty Hansen was driving through her community in the Red Lake Reserve when she saw something unexpected in a clearing by the side of the road. But when she learned it was a veterinary clinic, Hansen hurried home, loaded up her pets, and headed back.

On that sweltering afternoon, in the back city area of ​​the reservation, an all-star group of nonprofit animal care organizations sheltered from the sun by pop-up canopy tents was offering free vaccinations and health checks for pets.

While every organization has cared for Red Lake animals in the past, this is the first time in the tribe’s history that six groups of vet clinics are being held simultaneously for a week. It’s been a relief typhoon for pet owners experiencing a healthcare drought.

Red Lake Ethnic Academy will be hosting a veterinary clinic during Community Outreach Week. However, the clinic also provides pet health services and resources directly in the Red Lake Country community.

Monica Lawrence of MPR News

It is also the first step in creating an affordable and easy-to-use infrastructure that all residents can benefit from. Another purpose of the campaign is to help bridge the cultural divide around pet care and ownership on reservations, which can be complicated to understand to outsiders.

Just because an animal is outdoors doesn’t mean it isn’t loved and cared for or doesn’t have a home. It is common for animals in Red Lake to adopt families rather than the other way around. Although off the reserve, these animals would be considered stray or feral, but here they are family.

A few minutes later, Hansen returned to the clinic with her two dogs and cat. While the big dogs were in an unfamiliar environment, they hopped around the mobile device for everyone to sniff.

people walking

More community members come to get their pets checked out.

Monica Lawrence of MPR News

“I’m so glad they came out to reach out to us and the community, and I couldn’t reach out,” Hansen said. “I’m glad they’re here because looking at all the animals out there, if the clinic wasn’t here today, these animals wouldn’t be getting any care.”

Hansen uses the moment as a teaching tool to experience with her granddaughter.

“They are part of our family and we cry for them when they are hurt,” she said.

Alyssa Beaulieu’s two dogs were treated at the veterinary clinic. She works as a foster parent for animals on the reservation and sometimes works with the tribe’s own nonprofit, Awesiinyag (Animals) are Loved, when she needs help. Beaulieu said her stepmother taught her respect and respect for animals from an early age.

“I always remember her saying animals are not gifts, dogs are not gifts, and that happens a lot here,” she said. “Some people think it’s a good idea to bring a 3-year-old puppy or cat for their birthday, but in reality they can’t take care of them.”

When Beaulieu learned about the clinic via Facebook, she was delighted. Unlike Hansen’s boisterous duo, Beaulieu’s dog opted to hang out in the shade of one of the tents.

“It’s amazing that people are able to organize this because growing up is sad and you go to the dump and there’s a litter of kittens or a small box of puppies,” she said. “It’s amazing to see this growing up and seeing what it looks like now, and it encourages people to take care of their animals more now, just as they are more connected to them.”

Field clinics operate on a walk-in, first-come, first-served basis. The pet owner checks the completed form with the pet’s name and general health information. The paper was given to Kate Sobrask of Second Hand Hounds, who followed the veterinarian’s waitlist and was taken care of.

Meanwhile, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE) and Awesiinyag are Loved’s pet supplies that are distributed to households.

“We’ve seen a lot of amazing animals. Some of them are very simple — fleas, ticks, rabies vaccinations — and some of these cases are much more complex,” Sobraske said. “Our first client yesterday was a dog, unfortunately it was engaged to a porcupine, he’s great, he’s a complete champion, but he’s done some work and this is what we’re seeing in the city Not reachable.”

veterinarian takes a puppy

Erin Hill temporarily removed a puppy from the den for a health check.

Monica Lawrence of MPR News

Earlier in the day, at Red Lake Tribal College, the Minnesota Sterilization and Neutrality Assistance Program (MN SNAP) set up its mobile station for surgery appointments.

Mitakamizi Liberty, an MN SNAP veterinary technician and a registered member of the Leech Lake Band in Ojibwe, said the demand for these procedures was so high that all available vacancies were filled before the clinic began. Liberty added that the procedure will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the pet, barring any complications. Upon waking up, the dog or cat is observed to make sure they are not suffering from any ill effects from the anesthesia before they are sent home.

Liberty describes his involvement in the vet clinic as cathartic — a way to reconnect with his culture, which hasn’t always been easy since moving to the city.

“It feels good to be home, and it feels good to be actively helping my community,” Liberty said.

The key to making the veterinary clinic possible is Marilou Chanrasmi of CARE. She said the event is important to Red Lake because the infrastructure to provide basic care for all animals is still being built, “just like humans, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we start going downhill, not unlike animals. , we are all connected, we are all related.”

Awesiinyag and Loved lead veterinary clinics to reality. According to co-founder Lucas Bratvold, Awesiinyag are Loved is a grassroots organization at its core.

The two took a group photo

CVT’s Jessy Nickolauson (left) and Surgical Preparation Technician Nicole Wallace take pictures inside the MNSNAP truck. They inspect pets brought in for treatment, trim their nails, prepare for surgery, and monitor their recovery after spaying or spaying.

Monica Lawrence of MPR News

“It’s great to be able to help animals in need and help people because a lot of what we’re doing is providing resources for families and pet owners. Sometimes we’re exposed to some wild animals, like there are some injured eagles, and we put them in Picked up and transported to rehab, but mostly pets, is beneficial for the individual,” Bratwald said. “It’s also good to do something for the community, and a big part of what we do is promote our traditional animal culture.”

On the fourth day of the pet clinic, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Services Reservations (SIRVS)—a student-run organization—arrived with about a dozen veterinary students, including a registered Red Lake member. They are doing health checks for the rest of the week.

Assistant Professor Lauren Bernstein said the event was unique because it emphasized relationship building between students and community members and between the university and the community. It also provides students with real-world experience.

“They are learning about their role as health professionals in all these different systems; they are learning how they are perceived in different communities. They are learning that what they say matters and matters, so they are learning empathy and Cultural humility. They’re learning about what people already have and how to improve that knowledge, and they’re learning that what they’re learning in the classroom is part of their education,” she said.

Bernstein added that the biggest takeaway from the experience for students was connecting with people and understanding the importance of communicating in plain language, while demonstrating empathy and reflective listening.

By the end of the pet clinic, the Alliance of Animal Care Organizations had completed 121 surgeries, 312 health checks, and distributed more than 4,800 pounds of pet food and treats.

People and pets also contributed to the event.

litter of puppies

A litter of puppies awaiting a health check.

Monica Lawrence of MPR News

You make MPR news possible. Individual donations support the clear reporting, connecting our stories, and conversations that provide perspectives from our reporters across the state. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.

Donate today. A $17 gift will vary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *