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HSUS assumes remote veterinary service


The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) plans to go national with what began as a grassroots pet project of a rural-based equine practitioner in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) plans to go national with what began as a grassroots pet project of a rural-based equine practitioner in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Since 1995, Dr. Eric Davis, with two full-time veterinarians as a backbone,have recruited dozens of veterinarians and hundreds of veterinary studentsyearly to reach out to remote and rural pet-owning communities of the UnitedStates and abroad via a volunteer-based veterinary services program calledRemote Area Medical (RAM). In seven years, the program has serviced thousandsof animals.

HSUS has now adopted the program, renaming it Remote Area VeterinaryServices (RAVS) to bring spay and neuter services, quality veterinary careand humane education to people and animals in countryside communities andremote reservations in the U.S. and several international countries whilegiving veterinary students on-the-job training.

"Our mission remains the same ­ deliver veterinary care to animalsin places where people either don't have it available because of geographyor economics. RAVS provides us with a national organization whose primarygoal is animal welfare," explains Davis, former director of RAM, whonow heads HSUS' RAVS program.

Gone global

Each year, more than 400 veterinary students from 22 university veterinaryschools join forces to apply skills where most critically needed. Studentshail from the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, England, Sweden and France. Annually,the students perform more than 4,000 spay/neuter surgeries.

"For the students, it works either as externship credit, which wouldbe considered the same as if a student took two weeks and worked in a veterinarypractice, some of them actually get academic credit, just as if they wereworking in a teaching hospital," says Davis.

Beyond administering vaccinations and performing surgeries, the RAVSteam educates community members about pet care and animal behavior.

Where most needed

In the U.S., the program serves communities in Appalachia and on 20 NativeAmerican Indian reservations across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada,Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico and Minnesota.The program also serves communities in Latin America and Micronesia. Studentswill perform various veterinary procedures depending on the level of trainingor experience.

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