April 14, 2023

Vet med-Stoney Nakoda Nation partnership expands to include 1st preventive vet clinic event in the Nation

More than 300 pets spell success for the animal health and community-building initiative
UCVM volunteers comfort a Stoney Nakoda patient before the animal's preventive veterinary care
UCVM volunteers comfort a Stoney Nakoda patient before the animal's preventive veterinary care. Sarah Parker

Over eight appointment-filled days in March, University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) faculty, staff, alumni, and volunteers offered preventive veterinary medical services for dogs and cats in the Stoney Nakoda community.

The teams saw more than 300 dogs and cats, brought to the Chief Goodstoney Rodeo Centre by their guardians.

This is the first time UCVM has held a preventive veterinary clinic event in the community and builds off multiple years of fostering relationships between UCVM and community members. Hopes are to build from the success of this first clinic event and be able to provide preventive veterinary services twice a year (spring and fall) going forward.

Sarge the tabby cat looks on while being examined

Sarge the tabby cat looks on while being examined.

Kirsten Glowa Kobe

“I heard about the program from my cousin who also lives in the community,” says Willard Lefthand, owner of a one-year-old tabby cat named Sarge. “So far, this process has been great. My cat has been well taken care of and he loves the attention.”

Sarge left the clinic having been neutered (a procedure that takes about 10 minutes in cats), vaccinated for common feline infectious diseases, dewormed, and had a check-up where the cause of his itchy ears was resolved. 

UCVM has been working on building a relationship with the Stoney Nakoda Nation since 2017 by working with an advisory council of local Elders and knowledge keepers to understand what a partnership around animal health could look like. The faculty has also engaged with the local schools to bring veterinary sciences into the classroom in interactive and hands-on ways. 

Discussions with community members over the years highlighted barriers to accessing veterinary care for their animals, including transportation and financial barriers, as well as concerns around trust.

UCVM tech assistant, Tomas Preston, hangs out with Gilbert the dog before the animal's preventative veterinary care

UCVM tech assistant Tomas Preston hangs out with Gilbert the dog before the animal's preventive veterinary care.

Kirsten Glowa Kobe

“A lot of community consultation occurred prior to this first clinic event,” says UCVM postdoctoral scholar and lead organizer Dr. Tessa Baker, DVM, DACVPM. “It was important for us to understand what barriers community members face in accessing care so that we could offer the preventive veterinary care clinic in the most appropriate way. Like, giving clients the option of doing a house call for animals that are difficult to transport into a physical clinic location, or supporting clients with a ride to the clinic location with their animals.”

Shirlena Twoyoungmen is very grateful to the faculty for their time and effort. She brought in a one-year-old mixed-bread cat named Reese. “I don’t tend to leave my community much, so to have this in my own backyard is nice,” she says.

UCVM participants tried to develop connections with community members and their dogs and cats. Animals are an important part of peoples’ families and lives, and UCVM strives to provide good care to all the animals seen, in a warm and caring atmosphere. 

A special thank you to PetSmart Charities of Canada for providing funding to this clinic event, and to many other sponsors who donated materials and supplies that made this clinic a success. 

If you are interested in helping initiatives like this, you can learn more about UCVM’s Indigenous Initiatives Fund and other ways to invest in the community.

UCalgary Giving Day is April 27. Whether you support student awards, critical research or any one of UCalgary’s innovative funds, your gift will help change lives and shape the future. All eligible gifts made from April 1-27 will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 per gift — but only while matching funds last. Make your gift today at ucalgary.ca/givingday.

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