Plateauland Mobile Veterinary Clinic (PMVC), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1995 by the Robert T. Wilson Foundation to address the issues of overpopulation and poor health among the companion animal population in Northern Arizona. Our service area focuses particularly in very rural, isolated communities on the Native American Reservations as well as other low-income, non-Reservation communities throughout the region.
The clinic was created in response to the lack of veterinary services in these impoverished areas. Services were not readily available and when they were, they were either not affordable or under-utilized by residents because of traditional beliefs. The result was a staggering number of unwanted or neglected dogs and cats that faced disease, starvation and cruel death including “round-ups” and extermination by gunfire. The Foundation decided that a mobile clinic traveling to the communities on a rotating basis to provide services and education at little or no-cost to the residents would be the most effective way to address what was becoming a problem of epidemic proportions. Thus PMVC was created.
PMVC has focused its services on the Hopi, Navajo, Apache, Hualapai and Yavapai Reservations as well as rural, low-income non-Reservation communities throughout Northern Arizona. Averaging two to three clinics per week and working closely with local animal welfare groups, PMVC has aided the companion animal overpopulation problem across the region.
In its first seven years of operation, PMVC has performed nearly 8,700 spay/neuter surgeries and administered approximately 34,000 vaccinations. Although proud of our accomplishments it has not always been easy to draw Native American clients to our clinics. Many believe that spaying/neutering their animals is contrary to cultural traditions. However, through a variety of educational presentations, community events, on-site activities, a weekly newspaper column in the local paper, and other public relations, word of our organization and its good works has spread, resulting in a dramatic increase in patronage from the Native American community.
Our services are low-cost, but not free as it is part of our mission to teach the public about the responsibilities of pet ownership. Financial responsibility is a huge factor in determining whether or not to own a pet.
In addition to our clinics we believe that an educational component is necessary to ensure future changes and therefore, introduced an educational program in April 2002. Our educational director regularly conducts presentations to elementary-aged children and other community groups. Typically, these take place just prior to our scheduled clinics and generally focus on humane animal treatment, animal health care and the responsibilities of pet ownership. We teach children and adults that their pets need vaccinations every year in order to keep them healthy and that spaying and neutering helps their community’s stray problem and decreases their pet’s tendency to fight, run away, have unwanted litters, or develop certain forms of cancer.
PMVC believes that low-cost spay/neuter services and public education are inseparable steps in the fight to control animal overpopulation, decrease euthanasia rates and improve the welfare of companion animals. Our organization hopes that over time, younger generations will incorporate principles of humane education into their daily lives and consider spaying, neutering and vaccinations as a necessary pre-requisite to responsible pet ownership.
While PMVC has spayed/neutered thousands of animals and increased awareness regarding the plight of unwanted, unhealthy animals in dozens of communities, there is still much more to be done. The long-range effects of PMVC’s work may be difficult to calculate, however knowing that our hard work has prevented unnecessary pain and suffering for thousands of animals has been worth the effort.