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Veterinary hospital planned for Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation

Terri Joe Stone, a resident of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation, volunteers at the ViDAS clinic. (Photo courtesy VIDAS/H. Navarro)

Cats, dogs, horses and other animals – including injured wildlife – will soon have a facility to care for them on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota.

A collaborative effort, which includes the Banfield Foundation, IDEXX Foundation and Sovereign Nations Veterinary, has teamed up to build and staff a veterinary hospital on the reservation, which encompasses 20 communities. The facility will be named Wamakanskan Wawokiye Oti, which translates to “helping animal center.”

“In the Lakota culture, animals are considered sacred — this requires respect for animals, manifested by providing for their health and well-being. When animals are healthy it ultimately impacts the health and spirit of the tribal community,” Kathleen Wooden Knife, a former six-year tribal leader with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said in a statement regarding the June 8 announcement. “I have dreamed of a clinic for many years — for a place where the tribal communities can access affordable pet health care. Today, my dream is becoming a reality. On behalf of the entire Rosebud Sioux Tribe – ‘Wopila’ – thank you.”

“Among tribal nations, access to veterinary care is often beyond reach due to financial, socioeconomic, and geographic barriers that not only impact the pet but also pet owners,” said Kim Van Syoc, executive director of Banfield Foundation. “We are committed to helping remove barriers and bring much needed veterinary care and veterinary careers to the pets and people of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal communities.”

Sovereign Nations Veterinary will oversee the medical operations and education programs. Full scholarships will be offered to tribal members who are interested in being trained in the veterinary field and working at the new clinic. Sovereign Nations Veterinary and VIDAS, a group of veterinary spay and neuter experts who help provide pet sterilization to underserved areas, will offer free spay/neuter services for pets.

Hospital renovations are scheduled to be completed in late June.

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