Cye Goseyun: "The Big Man" of San Carlos

December 16, 2014

January in the high country of southeast Arizona can be surprisingly cold, even to RAVS staff and volunteers from the frozen north of New Hampshire or Wisconsin. It was cold as we were setting up for a HSVMA-RAVS wellness clinic when the gymnasium door swung open, and in strode a big man moving quickly toward us with a smile that warmed the whole gym. Cye Goseyun greeted us with the welcome of the entire San Carlos Apache Tribe.

Like many of his tribe, as a young man Cye left the reservation to see the world.His skill with mining machinery took him from Alaska to South America, with many stops along the way. Between jobs, he often came home to the reservation and, after each trip, the contrast of living in the world and being in the comfortable embrace of family and tribe was more striking. During one of these visits in 2008, his mother suggested he apply to be an officer for the Tribal Animal Control. Cye had never considered such a job before, but after so long away, the pull of home was strong and he took a chance, not realizing he was heading toward a maelstrom that would change his life.

Battling a Deadly Disease Brings Needed Change...

In 2003, an Apache child died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease carried by ticks that also affects dogs. RMSF was nearly unheard of in Arizona because the ticks known to carry the disease are not found in the state, so the sudden appearance of this deadly disease triggered action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2005, the CDC had determined that a new species of tick was infected with the disease, and it was a very common tick in Arizona: Rhipicephalus sanguineus. When the rookie Animal Control Officer Cye Goseyun reported for duty, he was thrust into battle against ticks and RMSF. This project gave Cye a new appreciation for his tribe, the problems on the reservation, and the need for solutions that come from the tribe. During a visit to Atlanta for the National Animal Care and Control Association Convention, Cye was invited to tour the CDC facilities by some of the officers who had worked in San Carlos. As he saw the modern labs and pristine environment of the CDC, he marveled that they would travel 2,000 miles to work in the dirt of San Carlos to help his people stop a deadly disease. He returned inspired, in his words, “Being an ACO is no longer work; it is my passion.”

...And New Beginnings

HSVMA-RAVS began annual clinics in San Carlos in 2003. From the start, we noted a high incidence of rickettsial and other infectious disease, particularly parvo and distemper. In each community we serve, the RAVS team adjusts our clinical emphasis in response to the conditions we find. With the RMSF threat, rickettsial disease and tick control rose to the top of our outreach priorities at San Carlos. After a few visits, it was apparent that this community desperately needed more than one clinic a year to make headway against the endemic infectious disease in the pet population. In 2011, RAVS began scheduling additional short wellness clinics. In 2015, RAVS will start a pilot program in San Carlos that will bring more visits and encourage more community involvement. The ACOs are the primary facilitators for our clinics in San Carlos. Cye is a strong supporter of our efforts and regularly enlists his large family to help. At each of our clinics, Cye and other animal control staff set up a separate table where community members register their animals and dogs get a tick collar before they leave the clinic. Cye spends significant time with our team every day ensuring we have what we need, and sharing information that only a dedicated, proactive Animal Control Officer could develop. Over the years, the RAVS staff has watched Cye’s passion for improved animal welfare grow and result in positive changes for his community. His enthusiasm and hard work have helped to rally support for better animal welfare and public health on the reservation.

Earlier this year, Cye's skills and experience caught the eye of the Maricopa County Animal Control--a large, innovative, and progressive force near Phoenix, 120 miles from San Carlos. This year Cye left the reservation to join them. As is typical of him, Cye’s reasons for the change are to progress in the profession that is his passion and to bring back new methods and ideas to his tribe. “The Big Man” will be missed by RAVS, but he assures us he will make time to visit our San Carlos clinics and stands ready to help us at any time.

RAVS staff with Cye Goseyun at the San Carlos Apache Reservation

Cye Goseyun (third from left) and the HSVMA-RAVS crew.     Dr. Paul Breckenridge/HSVMA

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