The Standridge family's dachshund Sammy, right, watches with trepidation as his canine buddy Kasi gets a rabies shot from Dr. Jim Delker during a vaccination clinic Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004, at the Soldotna Animal Shelter in Soldotna, Alaska. Shelter director Marianne Clark, reflected in the window holding Kasi, said several hundred animals received shots during the four-hour event.
AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, M. S
If only the flu vaccinations for humans could run as smooth and efficient as the rabies vaccination clinic for dogs held Saturday at the Soldotna Animal Shelter.
Like the precision pieces of a Swiss clock, volunteers moved from dog to dog administering the vaccines provided by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology.
"The state provides the vaccines and syringes, and we provide the manpower," said Marianne Clark, chief animal control officer at the Soldotna Animal Shelter.
That "manpower" included veterinarians Jim Delker from Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic and Tim Bowser from Soldotna Animal Hospital, as well as a host of volunteers.
More than a dozen vehicles already were waiting prior to the 9 a.m. start time for the four-hour clinic.
"We had 250 dogs preregistered, and we'll probably have another 150 dogs that just show up. That's how it goes. It's fun and hectic at the same time," Clark said.
Her words rang true as some of the dozen vehicles that were waiting were mushers in dog trucks filled with huskies waiting for their free vaccinations.
Mitch Seavey of Sterling the current Iditarod champion had called ahead to preregister 94 of his dogs.
"My dad's at home training, so he sent me and a few of the other handlers to get them done," said Mitch's son, Tyrell Seavey, who will be running this year's Iditarod with his dad.
The young Seavey knew the format of the clinic well and did what he could to both expedite the procedure and make the paperwork easier on volunteers. He came with a list several pages long with each of their dog's name, sex, identification, age and weight.
"These are great deals for the mushers. They save us a lot of money, and it's one less thing to worry about with racing season coming up," said Kasilof musher Dean Osmar, who brought 23 of his canines.
He and Seavey weren't the only ones who showed up with a lot of dogs, though. Kasilof musher Jon Little showed up with 21 huskies; Phil Hoekman of Sterling came with 16 dogs; and Soldotna musher Jane Faulkner brought 11.
"This is the most sled dogs I've seen at once," said veterinarian Delker, who moved to Alaska from Minnesota just over 18 months ago.
"To me, a dog truck was just five labs in the back of a pickup, quite a bit different than seeing 94 at one time," he said in reference to Seavey's four trucks.
"It's pretty fun, though, and it's good to see so many people that care about their dogs," Delker said.
Despite the musher turnout, the event provided free vaccines to all dogs, both working and pets alike, and there were several people who came with just a family dog or two.
"I saw it in the newspaper, so I thought I would bring my dog Chewie. He's a house dog that never really gets out, but I thought I would bring him just in case," Eimi Brown of Soldotna said in regard to her golden retriever-Eskimo mix.
"Also, I used to go to Dr. Richard's but haven't found a new vet yet since he left town," she said referring to Bart Richards, who closed Richards veterinary clinic earlier this year and moved to the Lower 48.
Racheal Maryott of Soldotna brought her two dogs Zoe, a golden-German shepherd mix and Freckles, a springer spaniel-Great Dane mix.
"I came because my dogs' health is very important to me," she said.
During one of the brief calm moments, volunteer Faith Hays of Kasilof said this year's event was as fast and furious as those in the past she has worked.
"It can be madness at times, but I enjoy it. Since it's a free clinic, I think it brings in a lot of people who might not normally keep up with veterinary care for their dogs," she said.
"I'd like to see two or three of these in a row, because what typically happens is people will hear about this one and say, 'Darn, I missed it. I wish there was another.'"
Peninsula Clarion photographer M. Scott Moon contributed to this story.
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