Photo caption: UAF veterinary medicine student Roxane Aflalo visits with a dog during a field visit to Tuluksak, Alaska in January 2020. Photo by Laurie Meythaler-Mullins.
That reality has contributed to some big challenges for both the people and the animals that live with them. Dogs that haven’t been fixed lead to to overpopulation and stray animals, which results in a rate of dog-bite injuries seven times the national average. A lack of vaccinations is linked to rabies cases in both dogs and humans. The region’s vast size and lack of infrastructure are ongoing barriers to even basic vet care.
Photo caption: UAF veterinary medicine students Roxane Aflalo (top left) and Angela Molli (top right), and Dr. Laurie Meythaler-Mullins provided veterinary support during the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race in Tuluksak, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Laurie Meythaler-Mullins.
Angela Molli, a second-year UAF veterinary medicine student, found herself standing on a frozen river outside the village of Tuluksak during her visit in January. It was the middle of the night, and temperatures hovered just below zero. Occasionally a team of sled dogs would stop in the darkness, requiring a quick checkup for their joints or muscles.
Weeks after volunteering at the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race, Molli was still amazed by her experiences under that starry sky. It wasn’t what she’d expected — it was much better.
“It was so fun,” she said. “It was just a phenomenal experience. I had a really, really great time.”
Photo caption: Veterinary medicine student Sam Kessler gives a thumbs-up before traveling to Holy Cross, Alaska, to help with a veterinary mobile outpost clinic. Photo courtesy of Laurie Meythaler-Mullins.
Sam Kessler, a fourth-year CSU vet student who helped Meythaler-Mullins in Holy Cross last October, said her visit provided a valuable perspective. It was striking how much could be accomplished with hard work and basic veterinary equipment in an underserved community, she said.
“We still offer the highest quality possible, but this is where theory meets practice,” she said. “I was really seeing that side of it — you can do so much to help animals with so much less than we’re taught in vet school.”