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Entries in PHCOC (3)


My Experiences on the Crow Reservation

SAVMA PHCOC "Underserved Population Externship" stipend winner
Chelsea Reaves, CSU DVM Candidate Class of 2017

December 2013 at Animal Care Center

As my first semester of vet school came to an end, I packed up my suitcase with warm clothes, my stethoscope, coveralls, and boots and headed off to Hardin, MT.  I was fortunate to have met Dr. Francis through family friends randomly, and we clicked right away, so I spoke with him about gaining some experience through his practice!  Hernia in a foalDr. Francis runs a mixed animal practice, Animal Care Center, in a rural area of Montana basically on the Crow Indian Reservation.  Being a Tucson native, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to be exposed to an area with a different level of personal animal care than you mostly see in larger cities like Tucson where everything is “their baby”. 

In Hardin and the surrounding areas there are a ton of stray dogs, skinny horses, and feral cats that are kind of put outside to forage for food on their own with the occasional food tossed out to them.  On the contrary, there are also the family pets, ranchers’ cattle, and 4-H animals.  Hardin is a beautiful area if you really enjoy the outdoors, as the Bighorn River runs right through it and there are a lot of open spaces. 

Being on the reservation, there are an immense amount of strays.  Dr. Francis works closely with a rescue lady, Sheri.  Sheri runs a non-profit organization called Rez Dog Rescue and basically drives all over Crow Agency, Lodge Grass, and Lame Deer finding abandoned, neglected, and stray “Rez” (reservation mutts) dogs. Assisting Dr. Francis in surgery She brings them to Dr. Francis and he works with her at discounted prices to spay/neuter, treat, vaccinate, and deworm all these dogs.  Dr. Francis works to provide low cost veterinary care to the underserved area and help alleviate the rampant problem of abandoned “rez dogs”.  I got a lot of experience with spay and neuter surgeries, from sedation and anesthesia, to prepping the dogs on the surgery table, and assisting in surgery.  Dr. Francis also sets up spay/neuter clinics with the tribes, although there was not one during the break while I was there.


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SAVMA's Underserved Areas Stipend in Action

SAVMA's Public Health and Community Outreach Committee offers eight awards of $500 each year to help veterinary students on externships in underserved areas. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and can be found here. Read on for how Alison Morgera from Penn spent her time in Haiti.


As a member of the Pou Sante: Amar Haiti team, I recently traveled to Thibeau, Haiti, to demonstrate the importance of the veterinary profession in all aspects of human, animal, and environmental health. Showing little Rood how to listen to the “ka” (heart)It is Pou Sante’s mission to establish a long-lasting partnership with the main goat farmers of Thibeau. Our goal is to provide these farmers with the knowledge necessary to maximize animal agriculture and empower them to become animal health leaders within their community. Through this cooperative, we then hope to implement sustainable farming practices for the future in order to improve both human and animal health alike.

The small, rural community of Thibeau lies within one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Haiti is a place where jobs are at a premium and farming is the sole source of livelihood for many of its inhabitants. Its animals are a fundamental source of nutrition and trade and as such, play an integral role in human survival. In such a society, where animals are an exclusive source of nutrition and yet veterinary care is scarce, there is an overwhelming need for public health education and sustainable farming practices. Our two weeks in Thibeau proved to be just the first step in what hopefully will be an extended partnership between PennVet and the people of Haiti.

“We had a cat, but we ate it.” This was the reply I received when I polled a group of Haitian children about what types of animals they owned.

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City Of Tulsa Animal Welfare: My Experience as a Veterinary Extern in an Underserved Area

SAVMA's Public Health and Community Outreach Committee (PHCOC) grants Underserved Areas Stipends to multiple students each year. Awards cover externships that are carried out between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013. A total of eight (8) $500 awards are available for each academic year and awards can be distributed in a retroactive manner. For more information, please see

Read on to see how one student spent his externship.

By: Ken Sieranski, 4th year Veterinary Student, Texas A & M University

During a cold two weeks in the January of my final year of veterinary school at Texas A & M, I traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to complete a two week externship at City of Tulsa Animal Welfare.  My experiences at this large municipal shelter impacted the lives of homeless pets in this underserved community and increased my confidence as a spay/neuter surgeon.  I worked under the supervision of Dr. Cathy Pienkos who is not only an exemplary shelter veterinarian, but a kind and patient mentor to many students, most of whom attend Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

I selected this particular externship, because my intended career path is to become a shelter veterinarian.   I have obtained an Internship in Shelter Medicine for next year at University of Florida which will allow me to work towards becoming a specialist in this emerging discipline.  The Tulsa externship has undoubtedly helped me to prepare for my internship next year.  In addition to our typical daily routine described below, I also joined Dr. Pienkos on shelter rounds, experienced the management and flow of the large municipal shelter, and participated in an animal cruelty investigation.   While this experience was invaluable to me as a future shelter veterinarian, I believe that this externship is ideal for any student wishing to both help shelter animals and increase their surgical confidence.   The externship is largely surgery-based, and it was noted on the Association of Shelter Veterinarian’s Website that externs complete an average of 20 surgeries per week. 

A typical day at the shelter started with performing preoperative physical examinations on animals scheduled for surgery that day.

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