Lien Animal Clinic’s Africa Connection

Ten years ago, Dr. Kraabel & I took our family on a trip to Africa.  An old high school friend of Dr. Kraabel’s was living with his family in Nairobi and invited us to come visit.  Dr. Kraabel and I had never ventured so far from home before but had always dreamed of going on safari and with a free place to stay and friends to show us around, we felt we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  We got everyone a passport, a full round of vaccinations and malaria medications and headed to Kenya in June of 2007 with all 3 kids.  It turned out to the be the trip of a lifetime in so many ways.  Our friends Kevin & Ruma and their 2 daughters were fantastic hosts.  They took us to see flamingos and rhinos at Lake Nakaru and horseback riding on Mount Kenya (which by the way looks a lot like the Pacific NW, aside from the antelope and elephants among the trees).  We pet giraffes and cheetahs at animal sanctuaries and saw lots of big cats, elephants, cape buffalo, hippos and zebras while camping in the Mara (the northern part of the Serengeti.)   

Inspired in part by our trip to Kenya, our daughter Aubrey began working with a group of friends to help fund girls’ education in Kenya.  In 2012, Aubrey and I went with several other Moms and daughters to visit Maasai schools and meet some of the girls they were helping to support.  The schools we visited were extremely poor compared to US schools, with crowded classrooms and few basic supplies such as textbooks or pencils and paper.  Yet the students were very well behaved, worked hard at their studies, and had the same hopes and dreams as their US counterparts. 

I also took vaccinations, dewormer & dog treats for the dogs living at and around the schools.  I naively thought I would be able to hide the dewormer in pill pockets, not realizing that most of these dogs hunted for their own food and had never eaten any commercially prepared dog food or treats before.   

Most of the dogs refused my treats (I don’t think they recognized them as something edible) but one dog was brave enough to try them and then was my shadow at the school.  One of the teachers took me to Maasai villages where the children would gather the dogs for me to vaccinate.  The owners were especially grateful to have their dogs vaccinated for Rabies as they are very aware of the devastating effects of this disease on both humans and animals but do not have access to regular veterinary care. 

A few years ago, we learned Dr. Guy Palmer, one of our former vet school professors, was starting a campaign through the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health to try to eliminate canine & human cases of Rabies worldwide.  Rabies kills more than 59,000 people a year, most of them children.  The Allen School has shown that Rabies deaths can be virtually eliminated by vaccinating the dogs in an area and through canine vaccination has created a Rabies-free zone along the Serengeti.  This not only protects the people and dogs in the area but also helps prevent the spread of Rabies to endangered wild animals. (To learn more about this project or to donate, see their website at www.eliminaterabies.wsu.edu.)

A few years ago, we learned Dr. Guy Palmer, one of our former vet school professors, was starting a campaign through the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health to try to eliminate canine & human cases of Rabies worldwide.  Rabies kills more than 59,000 people a year, most of them children.  The Allen School has shown that Rabies deaths can be virtually eliminated by vaccinating the dogs in an area and through canine vaccination has created a Rabies-free zone along the Serengeti.  This not only protects the people and dogs in the area but also helps prevent the spread of Rabies to endangered wild animals. (To learn more about this project or to donate, see their website at www.eliminaterabies.wsu.edu.)

Dr. Kraabel & I started donating $1 from every Rabies vaccination at Lien towards the campaign and so far, the clinic has donated over $5,000 to the cause.  Eventually we hope to have a group from Lien travel with Dr. Palmer to East Africa to assist with the vaccination efforts.

(If you would like to make a donation, click here: www.lienanimal.com/makepayment/)

Elizabeth Fritzler, DVM, CVPM