Texas A&M veterinary students will work alongside experts in animal cruelty, neglect and trauma in what is being called the nation’s largest shelter medicine program. The partnership between the Houston chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is partially funded by PetSmart Charities, the organizers announced today.
Fourth-year veterinary students will rotate through a required two-week program at the Houston SPCA, exposing them to shelter medicine and animal welfare, including rescue and forensics investigations. They will work on animal cruelty, neglect and trauma cases involving dogs, cats and other companion animals, horses and donkeys, farm animals, exotic animals and native wildlife.
"There’s no better way to gain immersive, hands-on experience than at a shelter such as the Houston SPCA, which sees over 26,000 animals per year,” said college dean Eleanor M. Green, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ABVP.
The Houston SPCA investigates more than 9,000 cases of animal abuse and neglect each year.
"The number of species the students will work with and the enormous number of animals we rescue from cruelty cases and through our 24-hour ambulance will provide students with an unparalleled opportunity, which should serve as a national model,” said Houston SPCA president Patricia Mercer.
The program will give the students a deeper understanding of animal welfare, animal abuse and philanthropy while improving the health and well-being of animals, officials said.
"Our students are not only exposed to a large, complicated and medically challenging caseload, but also have experiences that cannot be mimicked in any other setting, namely exposure to animal cruelty investigation and the principles of high-volume, high-quality shelter medicine,” said Kenita Rogers, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, the associate dean for professional programs at Texas A&M.
"The students … are surrounded by contemporary real-life examples of how and why veterinarians must be involved in animal welfare issues,” Dr. Rogers added.