Last Thursday, I left for Point Hope on a flight by Era Alaska Airlines (yes, that's the one from the tv show, Flying Wild Alaska). I went there with the Barrow veterinarian, a US Public Health Veterinarian, and 3 Coast Guard people. Our plane was a small cargo plain that held 8 passengers. Era does not follow the rules of normal large airlines. We did not have to go through a TSA security check point, there were no stupid rules about sharp items or liquids, and there was no use of photo ID or boarding passes. Finally, the airport at Point Hope consisted of a parking lot and two trucks.
The North Slope requires all dogs to be vaccinated for rabies each year, rather than every 3 years. Since there is no local veterinarian in the village of Point Hope, the veterinarian visits once or twice a year and goes door to door and vaccinate all the dogs for rabies. This year we were also able to perform spays and neuters on some of the local dogs. In the end, we vaccinated almost 200 dogs and spayed/neutered 13 dogs.
We set up our clinic in the local police department's garage. The dogs were sedated with injectable anesthesia for the surgeries. I was the surgical assistant/anesthesia technician for most of the surgeries. I helped place catheters, prep the dogs for surgery and monitor heart rate and respiratory rate and inject more anesthetic if needed.
Most of the dogs in the villages are outdoor dogs that spend most of their lives chained up outside. Many dogs end up becoming pregnant and having puppies during the winter that often freeze in the cold or end up without a home, adding to the stray dog population. I was happy to help prevent unwanted puppies from being born by helping out with the spays and neuters.