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South Australia’s APY Lands healthy animals

The Indulkana Team

AMRRIC’s Program Manager Dr Jan Allen recounts a recent veterinary program at Indulkana, SA…

The Anangu Pitjantjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia cover 10% of SA’s land mass, and sit in the North Western corner of the state. With a total population of 2500 anangu (people), 7 communities with >100 people and many homelands (outstations), the logistics of providing veterinary services is hard to comprehend. Dr Bob Irving has been doing so for over 20 years. 

Working with Environmental Health as part of a service provided by Nganampa Health Council (NHC), Dr Bob has been visiting all the major communities 4 times per year delivering an injectable dog population control service.  This involves an injection to female dogs of a temporary contraceptive chemical.

In recent years AMRRIC has been successful with 2 South Australian grants- Community Benefits SA and Fund My Community. These, with the generous support of NHC, have enabled week long surgical programs in the 4 largest APY Lands communities over the past 2 years. Surgical desexing enables a permanent solution to issues of dog overpopulation, ensures a calmer healthier life for individual animals and reduces the potential health problems of too many puppies and adult dogs in households. 

Dr Bob with his long time team of local Environmental Health Workers have been the catalysts in the community engagement that has made these programs the huge successes they have been. So far we have desexed 375 dogs and the occasional cat.

This month AMRRIC organised a team of 7 (including 4 AMRRIC volunteers) for the first ever surgical desexing program in Indulkana, APY Lands. The first morning, outside our surgery site- the Iwantja Youth Shed- we even had owners waiting to see the team. By Day 4 we had provided 94 desexings and other services such as stitch ups, checkups and treatments of abscesses and cancers (mainly Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumours). With about 72% of the estimated dog population desexed, and having visited the households several times we thought it timely to direct our energy further afield… With the wonderful cooperation of Ellie Scutchings, SA Police, in Pukutja (Ernabella), we were able to organise a list of 9 patients and a suitable surgery site at very short notice in Pukutja for Day 5. 

We drove a total of over 1500kms that week- mostly on dirt roads and had very rewarding outcomes thanks to many people from a variety of local organisations. We look forward to doing it again in the not too distant future- possibly further west in the APY Lands. Meanwhile keep up your awesome service Dr Bob!

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