What We Do: Veterinarians Without Borders
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Veterinarians without Borders: The Big Picture

Line of small cows walking down a dirt road through a forested area with mountains in the background.

Healthy Animals, Healthy People, Healthy Planet.

What is Veterinarians Without Borders?

Veterinarians Without Borders North America/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Amerique du Nord (VWB/VSF) is a non-profit, charitable organization that focuses on animal health as a way to improve the health of communities. Put simply, we believe healthy animals, healthy humans, healthy planet. 

Globally, we focus on a few key issues - controlling rabies, promoting equality, responding to disasters where animals are present, and training and educating community animal health workers in areas where there is no veterinarian. Throughout this, we always keep in mind the One Health perspective, where we consider animals, people and environment before making changes, because changing one thing, can change everything.

We are the North American affiliate of VSF International, and are registered charities in both Canada and the U.S. We operate in countries all over the world offering everything from spay/neuter programs, to gender equity seminars, depending on what is important, needed and wanted in a community.

This small but mighty organization is made up of generous volunteers and dedicated staff. All work is made possible due to the kindness of individuals donors, as well as corporate and government grants. VWB/VSF Canada is close partners with Global Affairs Canada.


one health chart
Cows and goats running down a dirt road with a farmer in the background

The Big Picture 

Across all of our projects, we focus on a few key issues - controlling rabies, ensuring women have access to livestock and training and educating community animal health workers in areas where there is no veterinarian. Throughout this, we always keep in mind the Ecohealth/One Health approach. 

What sets the Ecohealth/One Health approach apart from earlier ecological thinking is that it puts humans squarely in the middle of the frame. Based on natural sciences, it also takes human behaviour into account and ensures that people and communities are involved in the decisions that affect their health and environment. 

The animals that are the focus of VWB/VSF's work bring value to humans as a source of food, income, traction, and companionship, but they are both affected by and affect the environment in which they exist. They are part of a balance that includes land, water, population density, markets, culture, and tradition. 

View Our Current Projects 

Your Support Means Everything

Veterinarians Without Borders North America/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Amérique du Nord couldn't do the work we do without your support. Whether it's a financial donation or a donation of your time, by improving the health of animals you will be working to improve the health and quality of life for people throughout the world.


Some areas of focus

Rabies Prevention Clinics

Although there is a rabies vaccine and it is a curable disease with timely post-exposure treatment, it continues to threaten human life in the developing world.

Estimates put the death toll at 70,000 people each year, nearly all in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Children are disproportionately affected – more than 60% of rabies deaths are in children under 15 years of age - 99% of them a result of dog bites. 

VWB/VSF has been working on this challenge since it was founded and we build rabies prevention clinics into our projects – our effort in Laos and Cambodia is a good example where over 5,000 dogs and cats have been vaccinated in the last five years.

Our Northern Animal Health Initiative also focuses heavily on providing rabies vaccines to underserved communities in the Canadian North

For VWB/VSF, any focus on zoonotic diseases must necessarily include attention to rabies. And while finding resources for rabies prevention may be a challenge, the disease will continue to be on our radar. 

View the Northern Health Initiative

Street dog lying on a dirty blanket.

Two women in Senegal with a herd of cattle.

Women & Livestock

Women do a lot of the farm work in Africa and Asia but often have little control over profit and production. However, at least 2/3 of poor livestock keepers in the world are women. They often own small livestock – poultry, goats and pigs – and even if they don't own cows, they often have control over the consumption of milk and the use of the profits from dairying.

For VWBs, these special circumstances mean that women are an important focus for livestock programming. By ensuring that women have access to livestock and training, we can ensure better nutrition for the entire family as well as income that will be used for household needs such as clothing, health care, and school fees.

As well, women have been engaged as group leaders and local educators and trained as Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW), providing both a new source of family income and a place of respect within the community.

Learn About the VETS Project

Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs)

Community animal health workers have become an important element of our approach to development. We embrace the notion that local people with an aptitude for animal care can be empowered to perform basic veterinary tasks.

In many of the countries where we work there are few veterinarians and most of those are government employees working at a supervisory level. Even if more vets were available, most small farmers would not be able to afford their services. CAHWs fill the gap.

Government veterinarians have learned that the value flows both ways as CAHWs are often the first to notice the emergence of new diseases or spot an outbreak in time to prevent a full epidemic.

VWB/VSF also works to ensure that CAHWs have access to the necessary medicines, vaccines, and supplies. 

Learn More About CAHWS

Man in the foreground holding a large stick over his shoulder with cattle out of focus in the background.

Stories From Around The World

Avian Influenza Overview: What You Need to Know and Where to Learn More

Avian Influenza Overview: What You Need to Know and Where to Learn More

In this article, wildlife health specialist and VWB/VSF Board Member, Jolene Giancinti (BHSc, DVM, PhD) answers common questions and reviews best practices around Avian Influenza Viruses (AIVs). The goal is to provide you with a technical overview and spark your interest in learning more.

Read more

Ask an Expert:

Ask an Expert: "How can we work with northern communities to strengthen access to animal health care?" with Dr. Trace MacKay

Holding over 21 years of veterinary experience, Dr. MacKay has volunteered her time with VWB since the formation of VWB Canada in the early 2000s.

Read more

VETS Volunteer Voices: Building Capacity for a Better Tomorrow

VETS Volunteer Voices: Building Capacity for a Better Tomorrow

#VETSVolunteerVoices aims to bring you the stories of our passionate VETS program volunteers from the field. This blog (part 3 of 3) was contributed by Izabela Wlodarczyk, a Communications Volunteer with our VETS program in Laos (Feb-June 2024).

Read more

  • I have seen first-hand the benefits of capacity building and gender empowerment for smallholder livestock farmers, and stakeholders in the livestock sector.
    - Dr. Shauna Richards

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