Veterinary Colleges

In this morning’s new paper, I read that one of our colleges is opening a veterinary school. I thought to myself, “What a wonderful opportunity for the local animal shelter.”

I started my career in animal welfare in Pullman Washington. I could not have picked a better place to start. I was living in Idaho and earning my Wildlife Resources degree when I took the job in Pullman. The City of Pullman used to pull their Animal Control Officers from the students attending the Veterinary College at Washington State University. My background as a military working dog handler gave me a boost into the position.

The Veterinary College and I developed a close working relationship. They needed my help in dealing with abandoned pets and assisting them in making the difficult decision of euthanizing an animal. I got a lot in return.

The College had a problem with people delivering their pets to them for treatment and then abandoning their pets when they got their bill for services. I accepted those animals. Frequently, strays were brought to them that required extensive treatment. Without an owner present, I would aid the College’s veterinarians in deciding to save the animal or euthanize it. In this manner, I helped relieve them of the liability in making that decision.

In return, they would provide the training that I required. I worked with their Head of Ornithology to learn how to capture and handle birds of prey. They taught me how to use chemicals in the capture of animals. My experience was so great, that in the first years that the National Animal Control Association began offering an annual training conference, they did so in Pullman so that they could teach nationally the things that I was learning locally.

Throughout my career, I had the opportunity to work with colleges. In Fairfax County, I worked with a college that trained veterinary technicians and they incorporated much of their study time with hands-on training at the shelter. In Alachua County, I worked with Florida State University where veterinary students would provide hands-on training once a week at the shelter. It is a natural fit for veterinary students to work at their local shelter. A wise shelter director will aid them in seeing that fit.