By SCOTT MCKIE BP
For two days, pet owners lined up with their cats and dogs at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds for veterinary services. Volunteers from the Washington State-based Christian Veterinary Mission provided services on the Qualla border for the first time June 10-11.
“We share the love of Christ through veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Page Wages, DVM, organizer and team leader with Christian Veterinary Mission. “It’s a way of bringing people together through the animals, and then we can have a little chat with them about Christ.”
She said the team performed around 50 various spaying and spaying operations on Friday, June 10, and a large line formed on Saturday morning. “I run trips and we normally go to Robbinsville. I’ve been doing this for probably 15 years.
Dr. Wages was very pleased with the participation in Cherokee. “Everyone has been very receptive. I think people appreciate it. It is a kind of low cost sterilization and sterilization, but otherwise we can just reach out and reach people.
The event in Cherokee was a partnership between the Christian Veterinary Mission, Grace Community Church and Cherokee Animal Control.
Scott Hill, pastor at Grace Community Church, said: “There is such a need on the reservation. As you know, pets roam. So to do the shots to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines and such, just for public safety and health and so on. But, really, even more than that, it’s just to serve the community – people who otherwise, because it’s expensive to have dogs spayed and spayed, it’s just an opportunity to say, ‘hey, if you want it done, here’s a low-cost alternative we can help you with. So really to serve and reach out and say, “Let us come to your side and help you in that way.”
He was also pleased with the turnout. “You know they’ve been at Snowbird for several years and they’ve never been here. So with the turnout we’ve had this year, hopefully it will become an annual event.
Pastor Hill complimented the staff of the Christian Veterinary Mission. “These guys are absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen that before, but they’re like a well-oiled machine in there. And what’s really amazing is that they’ve never worked together before. He there are a few who have done this together, but the majority of them are just people who signed up and said, ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ So this is their first experience of full team work, which is unreal.
Tammy Jackson attends Grace Community Church and was very excited about the partnership formed between the organizations and what it could mean for Qualla’s frontier animals. “If people take better care of their animals, have them neutered and spayed, we won’t have the population of animals that people can’t feed or care for.”
She said it would help Cherokee Animal Control in its mission on the Qualla frontier. “Anything we can do to help this tribal program we are ready to do and also help the community as a whole.”
Shane Davis, Cherokee Animal Control program manager, praised the partnership. “I had heard about it (Mission) before because they had it in Robbinsville, and I tried to figure out how to get it here. Tammy (Jackson), through her church, came into contacted them and then got in touch with me. Of course, I was excited and I was happy that he was coming here.
He added: “I can’t take any credit for myself. I’m just here to do what I can and Tammy made it happen. This is what this community needs.
Davis said a successful and continued partnership would help reduce the animal population in years to come and prevent entire litters from being deposited at the Cherokee Animal Sanctuary.
Annette Rodriguez of Cherokee brought four dogs to the event on Saturday to be spayed. “I think it’s fantastic because it costs $365 to get a dog done and here it’s going to be $30.”
She went on to say, “It’s good that they’re doing it because a lot of people here can’t afford to do all that, especially if you have a full house like me. A lot of people have three or four cats, and you can’t afford $365 for each.
For more information on the Christian Veterinary Mission, visit: www.cvm.org