FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who are we?
HSVMA-RAVS is a mostly volunteer non-profit animal protection program delivering veterinary medical services and humane education to under-served rural communities in the United States and throughout the world. The RAVS program has been operating since 1995, using its original name, Remote Area Medical Veterinary Volunteer Corps (RAM). In 2002, the program became a part of The Humane Society of the United States and became known as Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS). As the Field Services division of the newly organized Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA), the program continues to grow and address veterinary needs across the globe.

Windi Wojdak, RVT heads the HSVMA-RAVS program. Dr. Ahne Simonsen, Anne Marie McPartlin, LVT, Dr. Kate Kuzminski, Ashley Gates, CVT and Dr. Lisa Shriver, complete the RAVS staff. We are supported by hundreds of dedicated volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, students, shelter volunteers, educators and people from all sorts of other careers.

What do we do?
The RAVS program combines high quality direct-care veterinary field clinics with clinical training for future veterinary professionals to improve the health and welfare of animals in remote rural communities.

Our projects include free spay/neuter, vaccination and parasite control services for dogs and cats; routine care for horses; and care of sick and injured animals in rural communities where local veterinary care is not available. We also provide educational programs for both adults and children on a variety of topics including disease prevention, humane animal care and dog bite prevention.

Our professional teaching programs include training for veterinary and veterinary technician students in medicine and surgery as well as community education and recognition of animal health problems in economically disadvantaged populations.

Through these efforts, RAVS provides care for animals in need, improves the skills of veterinarians and veterinary technicians and strives to inspire their future participation in animal protection efforts.

Where have we been?
In the past 15 years, RAVS has worked on more than 40 reservations throughout the U.S. and dozens of Appalachian communities. International expeditions have included teams working in Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Pacific islands of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Palau, and Guam, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, Bimini, Mexico, Romania, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, El Salvador and Paraguay.

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What services does HSVMA-RAVS provide?
RAVS field clinics provide basic health care services for dogs and cats including spay/neuter surgery, vaccination programs, parasite treatment and control programs, various soft tissue surgeries (tumor removal, hernia repair) and urgent care issues (porcupine quill removal, laceration repair, etc). In some communities services are also provided for horses and include humane castration of working horses, lameness work, dental care, vaccination and parasite control.

Every RAVS clinic also includes a very important education component. Presentations for children are provided on humane pet care, dog bite prevention and the role of veterinary medicine. Programs for adults generally focus on humane animal care, disease prevention and the benefits of spay/neuter. In some remote communities like those in Guatemala, RAVS veterinarians work with local residents to help them learn to provide basic health care for animals in their own communities.

In addition to the regular clinics we operate, we are committed to the ongoing support for the development of humane animal care and control programs in the communities RAVS serves. By providing training and resources to local community members and administrators, we can assist communities in achieving large scale improvements in the welfare of animals in their area.

How many animals do you help?
Each year RAVS provides direct care for over 7,500 animals at a value of more than $1.5 million, all at no cost to the communities or clients we serve. In addition, our educational outreach program reaches thousands of children and adult community members, helping to bring about lasting improvement in the care and treatment of all animals.

Since 2003, RAVS has cared for more than 105,000 animals and engaged 6,400 volunteer veterinary professionals and students!

How can I help?
HSVMA-RAVS operates entirely on donations and grants. Your generous donations allow us to continue to provide these valuable services. Skilled veterinarians and veterinary technicians, as well as eager students and others with or without animal experience, are needed to go on expeditions or to help with packing equipment and supplies and other administrative tasks. Donations are tax deductible.

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What type of person participates in a HSVMA-RAVS clinic?
Most of our volunteers are veterinary and veterinary technician students with a sense of adventure and a dedication to helping animals. Experienced veterinarians and technicians who enjoy teaching are always needed as well as humane educators and animal care and control professionals. But enthusiastic volunteers from any field are welcome. Some of our most successful volunteers have had no previous veterinary experience. Energy, compassion and commitment are the most important qualifications.

For more information visit our Volunteer Opportunities pages.

What is a typical field clinic like?
A typical RAVS field clinic will include 15-30 student volunteers and 5-15 veterinarians and technicians who together will conduct one or two clinics a day. Trips last anywhere from 2 days to 3 weeks. In a two week tour we may perform 300 surgeries and administer thousands of vaccinations and other treatments.

What is the volunteer experience like?
Under the supervision of experienced veterinarians and technicians, veterinary and veterinary technician students examine animals, perform and assist in surgeries, monitor anesthesia, and present educational programs, among other tasks. Other volunteers help check in patients, talk with local children about animal care and safety, help care for animals awaiting treatment, prepare surgical instruments and much more.

Volunteers work long hours in often less than ideal conditions. The clinic environment can be hectic and stressful. Lodging usually consists of a sleeping bag on a gym floor and luxuries like running water are not always available. It can be extremely challenging work, but the reward of helping so many animals and people in need can not be measured.

The RAVS field experience provides veterinary students and others with experience and training in a wide range of clinical skills. But, just as important, is the training students receive in initiative and self reliance, qualities not taught in the classroom. We believe that future veterinarians need to know that it is right to come to the aid of animals in need, simply because it is the ethical thing to do. Many RAVS volunteers return after graduation to volunteer their time and to train new students.

Is HSVMA-RAVS the program for me?
The RAVS volunteer experience is unique in a number of ways. For the right person it can be an amazing and rewarding opportunity. But field medicine in not for everyone. The hours are long, the work is hard. Volunteers must be able to work and learn in a fast-paced, often stressful, environment. For more details on the volunteer experience, visit our Volunteer Opportunities pages.

What schools do student volunteers come from?
Veterinary students from over 30 universities throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America and the U.K. have participated in clinics operated by the HSVMA-RAVS program. Many of these institutions offer academic credit for participation.

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Can HSVMA help me find veterinary services for my animal?
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide veterinary advice or services to individuals via telephone or email and cannot arrange veterinary care for animals outside of our scheduled community clinics. For information on discounted veterinary services or spay/neuter clinics in your area, please contact your local humane society or animal control service for recommendations.

How can I contact HSVMA-RAVS ?
Learn more about the HSVMA or make an online donation at www.hsvma.org
For website questions or problems contact the HSVMA-RAVS Webmaster
All other inquiries: Email: wwojdak@hsvma.org

Mailing address:
Windi Wojdak, RVT
Director, HSVMA-RAVS
P.O. Box 1589 Felton, CA 95018
Phone: 831-335-4827 FAX: 831-335-4828

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