Lakota Animal Care Project was established in 2007 as an official 501c3 non-profit organization on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Reservation is home to around 30,000 people of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. It includes some of the poorest counties in the U.S. The unemployment rate is around 80%, the alcoholism rate is high, the teen suicide rate is 4 times the national rate, there has been an epidemic of suicides in children recently, life expectancy is the lowest in the United States.
There is no veterinarian on this vast 2 million acre Reservation which is one of the largest in the United States. There are thousands of dogs, cats and horses. The mortality rate for dogs and cats is high. Out of a litter of 7 puppies, on average only 2 survive to 1 year of age. The situation is not significantly different for cats. The Tribe has an Animal Control Division which provides Rabies vaccinations and some other basic care but their staff is very small and their resources are also scarce and they cannot possibly help all the animals in need.
Lakota Animal Care Project is a small community-based non-profit with a huge task and with few resources. We have no building, no office, no clinic, and no paid staff. Yet we provide basic animal health care and spay/neuter for thousands of dogs and cats. Our educational program for children helps enhance awareness and compassion for animals. And, our program to rescue animals in dire straits who require immediate rescue to survive saves lives where there would otherwise be no hope.
Our funds are few but our task is great. In order to offer the spay/neuter clinics for dogs and cats, to provide the basic animal health care for thousands of dogs who would otherwise receive no care, to rescue those in dire need, and to continue with our popular children’s programs, we desperately need to hire one full-time person. The reality is that although volunteers can do a great deal, an organization with a mission as big as ours, operating in a place where the need is so great, requires the basics – at least one paid staff, a safe vehicle in good working condition, and funds to buy gas to get around on this huge Reservation. These are our main needs in order to continue providing the services we do. Because they recognize our need, we get most of the vaccine and drugs we use donated by the companies that make these. We also get dog and cat food donated by the animal shelter in Rapid City, which has more of this than what they can use. There are so many hungry dogs on the Reservation but it costs money to drive the 200 mile round trip to Rapid City to pick up the dog food, take it back to the Reservation and distribute it. Although foundations help a great deal by funding programs, it takes three things that most foundations cannot give us to implement those programs. The three things we need the most to function – money to pay at least one staff, a vehicle that works, and money to buy gas – are exactly the items that most foundations are not able to help with.
Your donation as an individual makes a big difference. Please consider helping us to help the thousands of animals in need on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Thank you!