A Community-Based Participatory Approach to Animal Care
The Lakota Animal Care Project will provide community-based animal care services on the Reservation by training and employing Tribal members as "Community-Based Animal Care Givers". Once sufficient funding is secured, Animal Care Givers will work in teams of two under the supervision of a Veterinary Technician to be recruited by the project. Animal Care Givers will work in the communities where they live. Animal Care Giver teams will be established in communities around the Reservation as funding becomes available.
Time for a check-up!
Community-Based Animal Care Givers will:
• Provide basic animal care for dogs and cats, including treatment of mange, ear mites, flea and tick control, care of minor wounds, removal of porcupine quills, and other basic care.
• Transport animals to veterinary clinics off the Reservation in case of emergencies or when animals require attention that the Animal Care Givers cannot provide (spay/neuter, etc..).
Giving treats after mange medicine
• Initiate humane animal treatment education programs in collaboration with elementary schools on the Reservation. Animal Care Givers will do presentations and will facilitate visits by Tribal elders, Veterinarians, people who work with working and service dogs (accompanied by the service animal), Wildlife Ecologists and others. Offer "Camp Shunka" as part of the effort.
• Establish and strengthen links with spay/neuter groups to provide more spay/neuter opportunities on the Reservation. Collaborate with these groups during their short but intense working visits to the Reservation, and follow up with treated animals following their departure.
Snake Shoulders, First Community Volunteer
Kids help too
• Enhance awareness of the benefits of neutering pets.
• Establish and strengthen relationships with nearby veterinarians.
• Initiate and facilitate dialogues with entities that provide un-neutered animals to Pine Ridge to find most sustainable alternatives to this practice.
It's not Just About Health Care for Pets
The Project is not just about providing health care for animals, it's about promoting healthier relationships between people and animals. The approach to be adopted by the Animal Care Givers is modeled on the adopted during the all-volunteer mange treatment effort. The approach is unique, and is expected to have a significant impact not only on improving health, but also on promoting healthier relationships between people and their pets. More on this approach can be found in the "LACP History" Section of this website.
Happy ending to a rough beginning having suffered severe abuse
Payment for Services
Much thought has been given to ensuring sustainability of the effort once the project ends. Even though it may be possible for the Animal Care Givers to provide some animal care at no cost, this approach will not normally be pursued because it may establish a mindset that would counteract rather than contribute to the project objective. It would be dangerous to establish the mindset that animal care should be provided at no cost, and is not the responsibility of the pet owner but rather of some governmental or other entity. It is important that people pay in some way for the service to avoid this pitfall and to ensure sustainability of the effort after project end.
But, how can people without enough money to meet their immediate needs be expected to pay? There is a strong, informal barter system on the Reservation. For example, a person with mechanical abilities might fix the vehicle of someone with no mechanical expertise in exchange for a needed resource such as firewood. There is need for a wide variety of goods and services to implement the LACP. Trading goods and services for animal care services provided by the Animal Care Givers will be a recognized and formalized form of payment. A list of goods and services that the project will accept will be made available to the public. As one example, there will be need to design a logo for the T-Shirts to be worn by the Animal Care Givers. A local person with artistic talents could design the logo in exchange for defined animal care services. Those who want to "buy" animal care services without cash can also volunteer to help the Animal Care Givers, or volunteer as a Counselor at Camp Shunka. To ensure consistency, standard rates will be established and applied for the variety of services provided by the Animal Care Givers.
The Community Revolving Fund
For those wishing to pay cash for animal care services, all income received by The Lakota Animal Care Project would go into a revolving fund to be used at each community's discretion to enhance animal welfare in their community. Clear criteria for the use and oversight of funds would be established at the outset of the program. The Lakota Fund, a well-established non-profit organization on the Reservation, would be invited to assist the project in establishing the revolving fund, and to share lessons learned from other such funds around the world.