WHAT IS THE CANBERRA MOB?
We are a not for profit, volunteer organisation committed to improving the health of camp dogs in the Utopia and Central Desert regions of the Northern Territory. Bill Taylor had a contact in an indigenous community who made them aware of the need for indigenous dog health care in the region. In 2010, Alison Taylor and Michael Archinal undertook to provide a long-term programme to remote communities that could not otherwise access veterinary services due to many contributing factors such as distance, language, culture etc.
Since then there has been biannual week-long trips to the region. The results of the programme have been overwhelmingly positive—and not just for the dogs. Due to sarcoptic mange control and intestinal parasite treatment, skin lesions in the local population of the communities have been reduced from 87 per cent to just 9 per cent. The work of these teams has not gone unrecognised - Alison Taylor and Michael Archinal were nominated as ACT finalists for Australian of the Year in 2016.
A TYPICAL DAY WITH THE CANBERRA MOB
The team rise early and people may choose to head out for a walk or run, or just enjoy a cuppa to make the most of the amazing outback.
The plan for the day then involves deciding which part of the team will work where, when and how, and which communities we will target and try and work with on the day.
Sometimes we have some surgeries already planned and we can collect the dogs for these to get started and sometimes, we start by just visiting the houses in the communities to offer our services.
SERVICE WE PROVIDE
The focus of our work is predominately on providing internal and external parasite treatments and offering a desexing program to the local pet populations and the effects of both these treatments. Most recently, we have also been discussing the emergence of the tick-borne disease - Ehrlichiosis.
When the opportunity arises, we also provide education to the local school children, and discuss how to best care for their own animals on a daily basis.
The days tend to be long but satisfying. We always enjoy coming back together at the end of the day to share a meal prepared by one of the members of the team. Sleep comes easy after a hard day’s work, knowing that we have made a difference to not only the welfare of the local animals, but also the communities as a whole.
HOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF THIS?
A team usually is made up of 4 vets, 3 nurses and an extra “lift and shift” member who has nothing to do with the pet health industry. We allocate a week's extra holiday on full pay to the staff from our practices that volunteer. We also cover their airfares and accommodation and food for the week. As you can appreciate, it is a very popular programme to participate in, but first priority is always given to our own team members.