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Rural Vet’s Outlawed

Written by Pamela Samash


Ok, it’s true, I love animals. Growing up in Sacramento, times weren’t always easy, but I had my beagle and my horse and my little pet rat and with them, I could handle anything. To me, they were more like family then animals. I think in a way, that’s what prepared me for Alaska life because I love all the nature and beauty.

When I moved to Nenana, I saw for the first time what rural veterinary care is. To my amazement here’s a low cost veterinarian that comes to the house and starts healing and spaying dogs and cats and even treats horses and cattle, parrots and ferrets, if it slithers, crawls, walks or flies, the doc can help it. Soon I was scheduling appointments for when the doc came to town and it was so popular, you would think a movie star or circus had arrived. The line of critters and their owners went out the door waiting for tumor removals, eye cleaning, spays and neuters, and whatever else the animals needed. Oh, what great memories! Then one day, the doc was gone. See, I didn’t realize that all along, behind the scenes, there was a storm brewing. The Alaska Veterinary Board had enough of this low cost traveling vet stuff because their veterinary friends weren’t making enough money off of our pets with the doc coming around, so they began fabricating false stories and accusations against him. Oh, they said animals were dying after he left the towns or that he didn’t follow through, but I was directly involved with the doc’s clients and those were outright lies. But, those lies legally prompted investigations and over time he was just constantly being harassed and investigated while our animals suffered. Then the board also made it difficult for other low cost, traveling vets to visit the villages and rural communities with high cost rates and delayed approval. Soon, the vets stopped coming altogether. Over time, rabies shots were expiring and there was no vet to renew them. So, after 3 years of no vet care, not only were animals suffering, but now it became a human health risk concern.

For years we have tried to change this board and have even offered to have representation on the board, but nothing ever changes, and the clock keeps ticking by.

But, we have a break through! We have legislators that actually care, that actually listen this time around! We have a fighting chance this session to pass a bill to protect traveling veterinarians. I don’t have the actual bill number yet, but I will keep everyone updated.

There is a petition too. With the threat of rabies and the outcry from the rural communities, it’s finally time to change the system, to put the people and their pets first!

I think it’s important that people realize what’s really happening and so if they hear news about this, they will know our side of the story. Rural vet care is not dangerous, if it was, then why would we be fighting so hard to protect it. We love our animals and just want the govt to stay out of the way.

About the author

Pamela Samash

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