Amata is an Aboriginal Community located in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia, an area that occupies one tenth of South Australia in the North West corner. Located at the western end of the Musgrave Ranges, approximately 380km south west of Alice Springs and directly south of Uluru Amata is home to over 500 residents.
The project collaboratively funded and supported by Community Benefit South Australia, the Nganampa Health Council (NHC), AMRRIC and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Council meant that surgical desexing of dogs would reach Amata for the first time in its history following previous efforts to manage dog populations through chemical desexing, which involves administering an injection to temporarily inhibit the dog’s ability to reproduce.
Of course a change like this would require significant engagement with the community so AMRRIC worked to develop relationships on the ground in an effort to increase the uptake of surgical desexing services offered when the veterinary team came to town to deliver the Dog health Program.
AMRRIC Education Officer, Courtney Falls was hard at work in the heat with the local Environmental Health Workers (EHWs) talking with community members, running Mums and Bubs animal health education classes outside the surgery suite and visiting the local school to deliver education on how to Be A Friend to your Dog.
The local Aboriginal EHWs (from NHC) provided essential community liaison before and during the program and as a result, community participation was very active, with owners walking their dogs up to a kilometre to reach the surgery suite at the Family Learning Centre on the outskirts of Amata. Furthermore, pet owners were actively seeking out the AMRRIC team to organise desexings making the program extremely successful. In total 76 dogs were surgically desexed by the veterinary team that included:
Dr Bob Irving who has been providing a veterinary service to a massive area of Australia including the APY Lands for 20 years
Dr Graeme Blanch, experienced AMRRIC vet volunteer
Dr Jan Allen, AMRRIC One Health Program Manager and veterinarian
Rebecca Churchill, University of Adelaide veterinary student and volunteer
Courtney Falls, AMRRIC Education Offer
AMRRIC wishes to thank its project partners and the many individuals of Amata who helped to make the visit a success.