Vaccines for Healthy Animals and Reservation Communities

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of vaccinations for people to prevent serious and sometimes deadly diseases. With so much current focus on vaccines for people, animal caretakers recognize that pets are a part of the family too and their vaccines are equally important. PWNA’s Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR) program provides grants to animal welfare partners, helping them extend no-cost and low-cost vaccine services to animals of the reservations and immunize rescue animals prior to adoption and rehoming.

ASPCA shares that vaccines can be broken into two categories: “core must-haves” and “non-core.” This differs depending on the type of animal and where it lives. Must-haves for dogs are rabies, parvovirus, distemper and canine hepatitis. Must-have for cats are rabies, feline distemper, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. In some cases, a dog may get more than 15 vaccines and cats up to 10 vaccines in their first year of life. The price of these vaccines can add up quickly, costing anywhere from $100-$200 depending on the clinic and number of shots.

RAR grants help our animal welfare partners protect animals – and in turn communities – against preventable diseases. Nola and Chuck are serving the Omaha and Winnebago tribes in Nebraska through 12 Hills Dog Rescue. They’ve been a PWNA partner for several years, and a good portion of the RAR funding provided to them goes toward vaccinations and parasite prevention. Over one three-month period, they were able to do 41 immunizations at an average cost of about $22 per dog. That’s a lot of preventative medicine for animals waiting for their forever homes!

Unfortunately, many animals who find themselves with our RAR partners arrive with injuries and other critical health concerns. These issues must be treated before vaccines can be administered. One recent example is Phil, a six-week-old Pomeranian/Husky (Pomsky) mix. Phil was taken to 12 Hills by a Nebraska family and a veterinary assessment showed he had a severe bacterial infection in his face and feet. Two options were given: euthanasia or the long and costly road of treatment. Thankfully, they chose treatment, and Phil is now on the road to recovery!

A happy and playful Pomsky now 10 weeks old, Phil has received his first vaccinations and is ready for his forever home! According to 12 Hills, he is fine with cats and kids but not yet house-trained or neutered. Phil will weight 15-30 pounds when fully grown.

For more information on canine and feline immunizations, visit or consult with your nearest veterinary clinic.

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