Wednesday, December 10, 2008



Approximately one month after receiving approval from the BC Veterinary Medical Association (BCVMA), the Canadian Animal Assistance Team has completed a very successful two-day Animal Wellness Clinic in the small Vancouver Island west coast community of the Ucluelet First Nations UFN (Ittatsoo Reserve). An invitation in March of 2008 was extended to CAAT from the UFN Band administration office and CAAT began the necessary preparations to gain permission from the BCVMA to travel to this community and assist in their pet overpopulation problems. CAAT team member, Dr. Ken Seaman (Puntledge Veterinary Clinic in Courtney, BC) became the mediator between the BCVMA and CAAT and relentlessly went to bat for the approval of this project.

By mid-summer, we were told we could do everything except surgical procedures until permission was granted. From August 6-8, 2008, six CAAT team members traveled to the UFN community and vaccinated, dewormed, and gave flea treatment to approximately 60 dogs and cats. The team consisted of Dr. Brenda Bernhardt (Duncan, BC), Barbara Ashmead - assistant from Qualicum Beach, BC, Corinne Barker - assistant from Bowser, BC, Caitlin McLagan - assistant from Vancouver, BC, Jen Picard - team photographer from Vancouver, BC, and Team Leader and Registered Animal Health Technologist Donna Lasser from Hope, BC.

On December 4, eleven team members traveled to the remote seaside community of the Ucluelet First Nations to conduct a two day spay and neuter clinic. The community is located approximately one and a half hours drive from the nearest Veterinarians (Port Alberni). Our team consisted of two Veterinarians (Dr. Kenneth Seaman and Dr. Jennifer Buller - both from Vancouver Island), three R.A.H.T's (Chelsea Dillon of Campbell River, Lynn Burks of Abbotsford, and Donna Lasser of Hope, BC), five assistants (Barb Ashmead of Qualicum Beach, Kristine Riggins of Nanoose Bay, Jackie Ward of Denman Island, Jessica Gibson from the Sunshine Coast, Katrina Wutke of Vancouver), and our team photographer, Jennifer Picard of Vancouver.

The team was housed in a lovely, but small apartment unit on the Reserve, facing the ocean. With wall to wall air mattresses and sleeping bags covering every square inch of the apartment, and an amazing display of adaptability with eleven people sharing one bathroom and shower and a tiny kitchen, the team managed to share many laughs, good food (thanks to our great cooks - Jackie and Kris), and comraderie. Being awakened in the mornings by the grunting of sea lions in the bay (a nice alternative to roosters), the team was up and ready to work by 9:00 a.m. We would work straight through until 6:00 p.m. or so, with both days filled with a steady stream of patients, especially cats, being brought in my their owners. By the end of day two, thirty-seven cats and dogs had been spayed or neutered, had been given vaccinations, dewormer and flea treatments and had received physical exams. The team worked exceptionally well together. In the recovery area (post-surgery), one could see our fabulous assistants cradling one or two cats in their arms as they awoke from surgery or lying on the floor next to a large recovering dog to ensure a smooth and uneventful recovery.

The team was especially impressed by the residents of the community and how well-socialized and happy the dogs and cats were. We were so well-accepted by the community and many expressed heartfelt appreciation for our being there. We have plans to return to this lovely community every six months or so until the pet population is under control. Special thanks goes out to Suzanne Williams (UFN band office), the BCVMA for allowing this to happen, our mediator Dr. Ken Seaman and Puntledge Veterinary Clinic, the Port Alberni SPCA for the loan of dog and cat carriers, the Qualicum Beach Pet Store for the donation of clippers and blades, to each and every team member who worked tiredlessly and made many sacrifices to be present on this project,to all of the companies who donated medical supplies to make this project possible and especially to all residents of the UFN and their wonderful pets. Thank you!

To view photos from this project please visit our website's Photo Galleries ( and click on Ucluelet part one and part two.

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