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Canines head off to college

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Cats also help train veterinary students

By The Staff

The Humane Society of Levy County has received many requests for dogs and cats over the years, but a recent call from St. Petersburg College in Pinellas Park was a first.

The college was looking for 19 dogs and cats to be entered in the college’s Veterinary Technician program.  

“What are you going to do to these animals?” Arnette Garrison, the Society's Animal Rescue Liaison,  asked school officials.

The college immediately responded,“There will be no animal experimentation.  Each vet tech student will be assigned an animal, and it is the student’s responsibility to care for that animal during the semester.  At the end of the semester, the animal will be put up for adoption — spayed or neutered with all shots, and in very good health.”

The animals selected to “attend” college had to be between the ages of 8 months and 5 years.  They also had to be heartworm negative if a dog, and  feline leukemia negative if a cat.

Armed with these requirements, Garrison went to work finding animals. Garrison, who also is an employee of Levy County Animal Services, generally has a steady stream of homeless and stray animals from which to choose. However, she did invite Sheltering Hands, a local cat rescue group, to help meet the required cat quota.

The animals were transported to the health education center in Pinellas Park in two trips.  

A veterinary technician is similar to a registered nurse for animals.  A technician provides assistance to veterinarians in primary animal care, in radiology, anesthesia, nursing and laboratory.

The program at St. Petersburg College is one of 140 Veterinary Technology programs nationwide which are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  The program was established in 1971 and became accredited in 1978.

Anyone interested in more information about the Veterinary Technology program may contact Richard M. Flora,  dean and curriculum coordinator at (727) 341-3653 or http://www.spcollege.edu/hec/vt/.