Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide primary health care of an excellent professional standard to wildlife and domestic animals belonging to impoverished rural communities and animal welfare shelters where regular veterinary services are not available, to assist in research projects and in the rehabilitation and re-introduction of wild animals to their natural habitat and to help promote an harmonious co-existence between rural animal owners, their pets and wildlife through sterilization, vaccination and education programs.

631 It has become generally accepted that domestic animals are implicated in the spread of serious contagious diseases to several wild animal species including lions and wild dogs, adding to the problems faced by the already-threatened species. It has been recognized that by curbing the overpopulation of dogs by sterilization campaigns and vaccinating these dogs against certain infectious diseases, the spread of these diseases and other problems associated with stray dogs can be greatly reduced. These campaigns are only successful when intensively applied. Vets on Wheels has the experience and ability to provide this service.

Our strategy is to identify problem areas, such as the villages along the northern border of the Okavango Delta, then to approach local leaders to introduce ourselves, explain our concept and offer our services. We employ one or two local inhabitants to assist us with animal handling, communication with other residents, and to ‘tout’ for business. In our experience there is generally a good response once we have the headman’s blessing. We stay in the village and set up theatre in public places as long as there is a demand. Our choice of lifestyle suits this job very well – spending long periods away from large towns, living in the ‘bush’, enables us to concentrate our efforts in one small area for maximum and optimum impact before moving on to the next target area. Our experience has honed our skills and organizing ability, and our pricing is competitive.

At present our work is reliant on funding from the public, either directly or indirectly via concerned organizations. Local animal welfare organizations are unable to provide the intensive service on their own, neither with the help of scarce local veterinarians, which would be necessary to have a realistic impact. In some instances we work through local welfare societies who do a lot of the organizing and fundraising.

641 VOW operates as a non-profit organisation. All workers are paid according to the number of animals sterilized. In this way costs are kept to a minimum. Expenditure is thus largely dependent on numbers sterilized. Welfare organizations are billed by VOW according to numbers sterilized. Charges are made up from the cost price of drugs and vaccines, cost price of equipment used, wages (a fixed price per animal) and a small extra amount to cover the price of fuel and other running expenses. Any surplus funds are used to treat sick animals.

We hope with time government will become more involved, recognizing the proportionately large return for a relatively small investment and becoming aware of the connection between the well-being of the wildlife population and sympatric domestic animals with which they come in direct or indirect contact. With the increasing recognition of ecotourism as a major source of foreign currency in Southern Africa and elsewhere in the world, the well-being and conservation of the indigenous wildlife population should become more important to the authorities than before.