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Broadview University Vet Tech Instructor Attends Summer Camp on the Reservation

Published on July 22, 2014 by Karen Newmeyer

Summer is a word that brings to mind vacations, barbecues and reunions for many of the students and staff here at Broadview University. One instructor, however, filled her summer break by using her talents and skills to help better the lives of hundreds of furry patients.

The patient, a Great Dane, waking up from surgery

Heather Bird, veterinary technology instructor at Broadview University-Orem, has been a willing participant in the Rural Animal Veterinary Services (RAVS) trips for the last three years with a total of four trips.

“In the makeshift exam and operating rooms of the Rural Animal Veterinary Services, understanding and hope are the lessons I have learned within these walls,” she said of her many RAVS adventures.

This year’s adventure was on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Not only is Pine Ridge the poorest of the Native American Reservations in the United States, Pine Ridge is a vast expanse of land that both financially and geographically isolates many people from receiving necessary veterinary care for their pets. For many of the residents, the RAVS trips are the only time that they can afford to have their pets spayed, neutered and treated for various diseases.

The purpose of RAVS, as stated on their website, is to “combine high quality direct-care veterinary field clinics with clinical training for future veterinary professionals to improve the health and welfare of animals in remote rural communities.” This purpose is fulfilled as veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students from across the country volunteer for these trips to learn from each other and help various communities care for their animals. Early mornings, late nights and hastily eaten meals is the daily routine of the traveling veterinary hospital.

Every few days the clinic is moved to a new location, and the operating room is reset up with tables and anesthesia machines. The fast-paced environment keeps everyone hopping as they try to see as many animals as they can. Over a hundred patients are seen daily for spays, neuters and other procedures.

Heather crossing off the surgery procedure board. It is considered an honor to get to cross off the last procedure of the day.

“I can honestly say I cannot remember a time I worked so hard in my life. The RAVS trips for me are like vet tech summer camp,” Heather said. “It is extremely rewarding to be able to help an animal that might have otherwise lived in pain or even died had we not been there to help. I am so thankful to my employer, Broadview University, for making it possible for me to attend these trips and give to a community who is in great need of veterinary care.”

Heather plans to continue participating in many more RAVS adventures in the future, but her hopes don’t stop there. “It is my hope that my students will also be excited to attend the RAVS trips once they become veterinary technicians. We can all go to “Veterinary Summer Camp” together.”

To learn more about RAVS, visit their website at: http://www.hsvma.org/ravs

By Amanda Black, administrative assistant and vet tech student at Broadview University-Orem

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