A meaningful trip to the Zuni Indian Reservation

Zuni ReservationThis past April, I was fortunate to put my veterinary medicine experience to use in volunteer work on a Zuni Indian Reservation in western New Mexico. The program in which I did my volunteer work is called Native American Veterinary Services (NAVS). NAVS is a division of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation. Through the efforts of volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other assistants, NAVS provides free veterinary care for Native Americans living on reservations throughout the United States. There are two trips each year, one each in the spring and fall. Participants, spend 1-2 weeks at the reservations depending on their individual allowance.

Zuni ClinicThe morning after our flight we drove to the clinic site. The site was on the outskirts of  the local town. Upon arrival, we saw a prefab mobile unit and a shed — these were to be our clinic. This was a far cry from the pristine modern buildings many of us were used to working within but we knew it’s not the looks that count so much as the work that was to get done. After check-in and introductions to the other volunteers, we all got to work setting up the clinic and getting ready for the week of work ahead of us. We had a team of seven veterinarians, six veterinary technicians, and about six other assistants. We were running a spay/neuter, vaccination, and medical treatment clinic for dogs and cats.

Zuni SheepAdditionally, we had the opportunity to provide medical care for horses, sheep, and cattle off-site. On Saturday, our first full day of clinical, an unexpected blizzard meant rescheduling, our first trip to vaccinate 40 sheep and 20 horses. Our surprise at the blizzard turned to relief when we saw the weather forecast would be nice the rest of the week with a high on Tuesday of 80 degrees and sunshine.

For the rest of the week, we either teamed up and went onsite doing work on the local sheep and horses or stayed at the clinical site working on all the animals brought to us. The Zuni people love their pets and were extremely appreciative of the work we did and the care we provided for their animals. Without the work of NAVS the animals on this reservation would have received little or no medical care. As unsettling as this might seem, it meant all the work we did took on an even greater importance to each of us.

Zuni HorseThe entire NAVS experience is something I will always cherish. Being able to help the Zuni people, their pets, and their community through doing the work I love was truly a privilege. To me, veterinary medicine is a profession of the “Heart.” My volunteer experience in Zuni is one of the best examples of “Heart” that I have witnessed. The
caring and commitment of the 20 plus volunteers was amazing. The love the Zuni have for their pets, and the gratitude of the Zuni people for our efforts was beyond touching.  To top off the experience we all knew our work made a difference in the lives of many animals. The memory of this week is a gift I will always carry with me.

Thank you to NAVS, the Zuni people, and the veterinary profession for making this experience possible.

Suzie Weaver


Our advisor named vet of the year

We’re huge fans of Dr. Karen Rosenthal, one of our veterinary advisors and a good friend as well. We’ve always considered her one of the most caring and competent vets around. Now there’s an official stamp on that opinion. Late this summer Dr. Rosenthal was named the Exotic DVM of the Year by the Association of Avian Veterinarians. Read the full story here. Congratulations, Dr. Rosenthal! Continue reading…

Meet us at PVMA

We’ve shied away from buying booths at veterinary conferences. Somehow it felt too formal, too corporate. We like to see ourselves as different than the other companies in this industry and taking a booth felt like what everyone else did. Continue reading…

New Vets: More emotional, less scientific

A new study recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education shows an interesting shift happening in the psychological makeup of incoming veterinary students. The authors have been giving the infamous Myers Briggs personality test to new students at the Louisiana State University for the past 12 years. For the first eight years of the testing, the key personality traits of the students were the following: Continue reading…