Animal control program workers, volunteers journey to South Dakota
Several Union County animal control program workers and volunteers recently made a special trip to South Dakota.
Dr. Ray Heinrichs, a local veterinarian, his wife Debbie, Union County animal control program deputy administrator Derk Wright and program volunteer Ashley Trexler all made the journey to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to provide medical care to the animals.
Union County animal control program adoption coordinator Lisa Thompson said the reservation is one of the poorest places in the country.
“The people of Pine Ridge depend on their horses,” Thompson noted.
Heinrichs and his wife have been going to the reservation for several years to perform surgeries, tooth floats, castrations and general veterinary medical care to horses during the day.
At night, they perform spays and neuters on dogs in their SI Mobile Veterinarian Clinic, which is an RV they use for surgeries, examiniations and other services.
This is the first year that anyone from the Union County animal control program besides Heinrichs and his wife have gone.
Other veterinarians from around the country come to the reservation every year to provide the animals there the medical care they need.
They work with the Horse Spirit Society, a 501c3 organization on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that supports traditional Lakota culture and values by offering horse camps to young people and visitors to Pine Ridge.
The animals there do not have access to medical attention year round, so several animals that need care sometimes have to wait several weeks, months or even a year before they can be examined.
Union County animal control program members planned to stay on the reservation for four to five days.
Thompson said they expected to help hundreds of horses, up to 700.
With so many in South Dakota, the county’s animal control program was left very short staffed, with only one officer and one volunteer.
The animal control program welcomes support through its Valentine vetting program. Checks can be sent to the animal control facility at 385 Kaolin Rd., Cobden, Ill. 62920. Checks are made payable to Union County Animal Control, with “valentine” written on the check memo.
Those who may want to help the program also can make donations by using PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support also is welcomd for the SI Mobile Veterinarian Clinic. Checks can be sent to the clinic at 3140 State Route 146 East, Anna, Ill. 62906.
For more information about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit www.re-member.org/pine-ridgereservation.aspx.