Help all creatures

Veterinary services can be difficult to access in remote and rural areas, which are often where buffaloes – and dogs, cats, horses and other animals – roam. Kathleen WoodenKnife of Soldier Creek on the Rosebud Indian Reservation has worked for years to help provide affordable animal care to her community. She has organized many low-cost / no-cost pop-up clinics in Mission, enlisting vets and volunteers to perform welfare checks, vaccinations, sterilizations, food and medication that serve hundreds of animals. for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate.
WoodenKnife dreamed of building a permanent veterinary clinic in Mission where “tribal communities can access affordable pet health care.” For the past six years, she has worked closely with Dr Eric Jayne and Sovereign Nations Veterinary (SNV) to put tribal members in touch with animal care. Jayne, a veterinarian based in Des Moines, Iowa, founded SNV with the mission of providing training and funding for tribes to locally build and maintain their own stand-alone clinics.

Combining their determination, resources and love for quadrupeds, WoodenKnife, Jayne and SNV partner Dr. Lori Gossard have created, with private grants and donations, Wamakanskan Wawokiye Oti, a veterinary hospital in Mission. The name Lakota translates to “Helping Animal Center”. The hospital is located in an existing building in Mission that WoodenKnife and volunteers are transforming into a clinical facility.
As director of Wamakanskan Wawokiye Oti, WoodenKnife has helped more than 1,500 dogs, horses, cats and rabbits receive affordable care in 2021 alone. For her, clinics have always been a labor of love, but can – never be as much as recently. In July 2021, Dr. Jayne was killed in a traffic accident near Grand Forks, North Dakota. “He believed in and was so excited to bring this clinic to our reservation,” WoodenKnife wrote on Facebook. “He brought many fellow veterinarians and groups to our country to help build this clinic. “

Even after this devastating loss, the care continued. Then, in early December, WoodenKnife’s husband of many years, Verdell, made his trip after battling cancer and stroke. WoodenKnife balanced her husband’s hospice care with the needs of the animals. “Working with animals is my therapy as this experience changes my life, my future,” explains WoodenKnife.

Clinics by and for people
Nikita Eagleman, 29, lives in Antelope Community. Growing up with cats and dogs, she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since the age of 6. On his first day of volunteering at Wamakanskan Wawokiye Oti, Eagleman was cleaning the cages and mopping the floor when Dr Jayne, short of staff for postoperative recovery, called for his help. “Since that day, Dr. Jayne has always been extremely happy and relieved to see me come back to volunteer,” said Eagleman. Eagleman regularly assists with vaccinations and recovery and enters a GED / Vet Tech program with support from SNV Dr Eric Jayne Fellowship. “I really enjoy helping out at Kathleen’s clinic. It makes me feel useful. I hope to use my experience to support the clinic and help save injured animals faster, and to help my people, educate on proper animal care and hopefully encourage them to see veterinary technology as a future career. .

“Do it now, panic later”
Tashina Red Hawk likes to say that she rides a horse “from the womb”. The 18-year-old grew up on a ranch in Ring Thunder. Red Hawk, who is Sicangu Lakota, was bred with horses. Like many Lakota, she considers horses to be parents. “I call them my family. Culturally, they are very important to us. I was raised to take care of them, to learn more about their diet, to heal their wounds.
Red Hawk remembers two experiences from her youth that shaped the woman she is today. Years ago, when their chestnut Appaloosa Aguyapi Skua (sweet bread) disappeared, the Red Hawk family encountered a healer, who directed them to a lone tree on their 160 acres. Aguyapi Skua was dead. “He was just lying perfectly under this beautiful tree, on the other side of a barbed wire fence, which wasn’t broken or disturbed,” says Red Hawk. “The healer informed us that the disease was coming to us, but the horse chose to take the disease on himself, so that we could be happy and healthy. It is the power of the horse.

Years later, when she was 10 years old, Red Hawk and her father found their horse Wakeya Wi (Lightning Girl) seriously injured. Chased by a stud, the mare of hand 15.5 had notched barbed wire. “His entire front quarter was hanging down like a big chunk of meat,” says Red Hawk.
Veterinary services, not to mention emergency care, are over an hour from the Mission area. Red Hawk and his father lifted the injured animal into a trailer and returned home to bandage the wound in a butterfly bandage. “Every morning before going to school, I would take off all of her bandages, clean her wounds, bandage her back, give her pain relievers, go to school, come home from school and do this whole process again, ”said Red Hawk. “It takes almost 100 miles round trip to get to the nearest vet clinic. So, I was brought up with the common sense of ‘Okay, well, there’s an urgency. Do it now, panic later.

Like Eagleman, Red Hawk was volunteering with Dr. Jayne and Kathleen WoodenKnife when the operating room got very busy. Red Hawk – a barrel racing champion currently serving her second term as South Dakota State High School Rodeo Queen and who recently received the 2022 4-H Youth in Action Award for Agriculture – s ‘is made useful. “We had over 300 animals. It was like a tornado. Red Hawk will be studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine at SDSU this fall. When she becomes a licensed veterinarian, she plans to bring her skills back to Sicangu Lakota Oyate. “Kathleen and Dr. Jayne started it all and got to where they are today,” says Red Hawk. “Kathleen builds the right relationships to make her dreams come true. My ability to volunteer at this time is due to Kathleen’s dream and fulfillment of her goal of helping the Animal Nation.
“We had a plan, a dream and together we moved forward,” WoodenKnife wrote.

“This will be the first clinic model of its kind. We are delighted to have our own tribal members to take care of the 4 legs here at home. “

Masterpiece All Creatures Great and Small Season 2, based on the beloved books by British veterinarian James Herriot, will air Sunday, January 9 at 8 p.m. (7 MT) on SDPB1.

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