Vet Techs on the Go: Volunteering in the Land of the Quinault
Published on June 11, 2015 by Karen Newmeyer
The Quinault Indian Reservation is located along the Pacific coastline on the corner of the Olympic Peninsula and is covered with a wide variety of beautiful evergreens and hardwoods. The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is made up of seven tribes who work together to provide for the needs of their people. As with any group of people comes the need for animal medical care. This year, Heather Bird, full-time Vet Tech Instructor at Broadview University, Orem campus, participated in a volunteer experience on the Reservation. This is the fifth Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) trip that Heather Bird has been a part of, and by far her favorite.
The RAVS group, consisting of about 40 veterinary students, professional technicians and veterinarians were met by Jeff Muhlhauser, the animal control officer in the area. He had been preparing the reservation for months in advance for the arrival of the volunteers and had things ready to go including a plan to feed all of the volunteers three times a day. Home-cooked meals were provided and every dish was delicious (even if the meals were eaten in between surgeries and vaccine appointments). Regular meals can be uncertain on these trips.
Each morning Heather woke up in the boxing ring (no joke, she slept in a boxing ring) at 5:00 am and got ready for the day. From the window of the clinic she could see the sun rise over the water and watch bald eagles fish for their breakfast in the lake, a truly wonderful experience. The clinic was set up in a recreation center near the beach and from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm the volunteers were on the go. Due to tribal laws, no-one was allowed onto the beach without special permission from the tribal council. One night they were given permission to walk along the beach and Jeff arranged for a bonfire to be built so that the volunteers could make s’mores.
Heather’s job was to be an induction anesthetist and to help in the wellness clinic with client education and vaccines. “The animals were in pretty good shape,” she said, “There wasn’t a tick among them!” A total of 249 animals were treated, which included 61 dogs and 44 cats who were spayed or neutered, and a total of 144 animals who received vaccines.
On her way home, Heather stopped in Seattle to see some of the sights. One memorable experience was when she visited Pike’s Fish Market. She was watching the fishmongers toss fish and decided to take a selfie of the experience. She was holding up her phone for the epic picture when she heard a voice ask if they could take her picture for her. She turned and discovered a group of vet students that had been volunteers with her on the reservation. She had fun visiting several sites with them. Heather has plans to continue participating in future RAVS trips and may sneak in another trip to Seattle before too long.
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