This story was reported and written by KNOM reporter Ava White.
PAWS of Nome, a non-profit pet rescue and advocacy organization, is gearing up to provide services the communities of Nome, Savoonga, St. Michael, Brevig Mission, Shaktoolik, Gambell, Stebbins, Teller and Shishmaref.
The organization has helped save over one thousand animals since opening in 2013.
President Emily Stotts and Vice President Amanda Snyder said expectations for pet care have been low for an extended amount of time. A veterinarian comes to Nome every six weeks. Otherwise, the nearest vet care is in Anchorage.
Snyder said this can make it hard to find care during an emergency.
“I’ll say it affects the pet population,” Snyder said. “If there’s an emergency, you end up having to try your hardest to get hold of someone.”
Snyder adds that not having regular vet care can cause anxiety for owners.
“There’s a lot of anxiety around not having a full time pet service here,” Snyder said.
A partnership with the Bering Sea Humane Society has provided a 100% success rate over the last three years providing services through local clinics and send-out services.
Stotts said veterinarians in rural villages are only available when sent out. She adds many people don’t realize they have resources available to them.
“The expectation has been so low for pet care for so long,” Stotts said. “People might not even try to find help.”
Stotts said the biggest battle is not having a regular vet presence in Nome.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone’s getting what they need,” Stotts said. “This is healthcare, we’re talking about quality of life.”
According to Stotts, cost, freight, and weather combined have led to businesses running out of dog food and other supplies which can contribute to declining dog health.
Those who want to help support PAWS of Nome’s mission are encouraged to like and share their Facebook page with others. PAWS of Nome will be holding send-out service in July and a Nome clinic during the month of August.
Image at top: A dog from Savoonga under the care of PAWS. Photo courtesy PAWS of Nome