Kate Foran, Tennant & District Times
Students at Epenarra School, 200 kms from Tennant Creek, are learning more than just maths and English.
The school designs their own curriculum and animal education is helping bring the numbers and health of the local dog population under control with a positive impact on welfare across the Community.
Barkly Vet Practice visited the Communities last month while students at Epenarra were learning about Description.
School principal Jenny Cadzow said they learned new language, in context of what they saw … things like surgical knives, the fitted out vehicle, and seeing a dog getting stitches.
Dog numbers have been reduced through the desexing program with students monitoring a spreadsheet to keep the statistics and data.
Community education centres around bulk feeding using feed and water troughs, and leaving someone on the street to care for the dogs when owners are away.
Jenny’s next door neighbour, Rebecca Morton has 10 dogs and they’ve all had the ‘no-puppy’ operation.
After three vet visits, Rebecca says her dogs are fatter and healthier and no longer fighting with each other.
She and Jenny take care of each other’s dogs when one is away and Rebecca said it would be good for the vets to spend more time in Community, fixing injuries and other surgeries.
During October, every house in Elliott, Marlinja, Ampilatwatja, Ali Curung, Murray Downs and Wutunugurra was visited, with 135 dogs and cats desexed.
Lead vet, Dr Kelsey Fyffe said, over time, the vets had learned how to interact and connect with the Indigenous households and the results were showing.
“Years ago there was a huge number of emaciated dogs, but there’s probably a third of that number now,” Kelsey said.
“Many of the dogs are well cared for, fatter and healthier.
“By being consistent, we can stop the problems from exploding.”
This article appeared in Tennant & District Times, 1 December 2023.