Fairbanks veterinarian plans services to Interior villages

Posted: Wednesday, February 03, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks veterinarian plans to offer low-cost services to Interior villages.

Dee Thornell, owner of the Animal House Veterinary Hospital, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that she will offer basic services under the auspices of the nonprofit Golden Heart Pet Assistance League.

She hopes to start the effort this summer with the help of an apprentice veterinarian and her husband, Ken Rodriguez, a pilot who will fly her and other vets to communities that have no veterinarians. Rodriguez also plans to recruit other pilots to help.

The practice will focus on vaccinations and basic procedures. More serious medical cases will be referred to other veterinarians, Thornell said.

"We'll do just kind of quick stuff, some rabies vaccinations and spays and neuters, to try and get the population down," she said. "We may grow. We'll see how it goes. We'll see if we get the funding."

The nonprofit is seeking donations, grants and corporate sponsorships. Thornell is donating equipment from her veterinary practice.

Steve Torrence, chairman of the Alaska Board of Veterinary Examiners, said several veterinarians, mainly in the southeast, travel to rural communities to care for animals.

"Minor surgeries can be done out in the Bush," he said. "Most vets are trained to be able to do a lot of what we do without the big fancy equipment. The standard of care is going to be much higher in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage."

About 20 people belong to the Golden Heart Pet Assistance League, Thornell said.

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