Article courtesy Western University
Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine received a $300,000 grant from PetSmart Charities www.petsmartcharities.org to purchase, equip and operate a high-volume mobile spay/neuter vehicle.
“This is a significant contribution to our academic program that doubles the College’s mobile capacity to address community needs in the Inland Empire and the LA basin,” said College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Phillip Nelson, DVM, PhD. “The support of the VACS II by PetSmart Charities, and the contribution of personnel and medical supplies by WesternU College of Veterinary Medicine, will result in a partnership designed to provide a measurable impact on the population of unowned/unwanted animals in local communities, while providing valuable learning experiences for our students.”
The vehicle, VACS II, short for Veterinary Ambulatory Community Service, will be a key component of the college’s Shelter Medicine fourth-year rotation. It is expected to begin operation in August 2013, will take two to three fourth-year CVM students to area shelters to perform about 30 spays and neuters per day.
“We’re going to be doing high-volume spay and neuter with those students,” said CVM Assistant Professor Frank Bossong, DVM. “By the time students get to their fourth year, they’re pretty seasoned. They are well prepared to be performing spays and neuters on dogs and cats at this point in our curriculum. We’ll really be making a bigger impact on the animal population at the shelters here in Southern California.”
The idea formed a few years ago at a PetSmart Charities conference in Portland, Ore. during a discussion on innovations in veterinary education regarding shelter curriculum at various veterinary schools.
Dr. Philip Bushby, Marcia Lane Endowed Professor of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, shared how their fourth-year students perform spays and neuters.
“Although (CVM’s first mobile unit) VACS I produces a lot of spays and neuters, the number of spays and neuters produced by fourth years at Mississippi State was amazing,” Bossong said. “They were cranking out a lot of surgeries.”
WesternU applied for a grant to build a second VACS dedicated to pediatric spays and neuters. VACS II is under construction and, when completed, will go out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.