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Veterinary Students, Low Income Pet Owners Win With Free Clinic

The Calgary Urban Project Society and University of Calgary have partnered to give free checkups to the pets of owners in need.

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How many times have you heard “I just can’t afford it” from a client when it comes to their pet’s veterinary care? While you might be able to combat the issue on a client-by-client basis, doing so on a wider scale might be a bit more difficult.

Enter Canada’s Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) and the University of Calgary. The two have teamed up for the second year to bring free veterinary checkups to the pets of low-income owners. Doing so not only helps owners who may not otherwise be able to afford veterinary care, but it also helps veterinary students. The students conduct the exams, giving them real-world experience that is essential in this field.

Danielle Cyr, a student at University of Calgary’s veterinary school, told CBC News, “I think it's one of the most valuable things we do as part of our program. We spend our first three years practicing with actors and some of our animals at the school. But to come down here and have the opportunity to interact with real people who love their animals and real animals with real problems, it's so valuable.”

Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences instructor at University of Calgary, Serge Chalhoub, told CBC News that the majority of the work the veterinary students conduct has to do with prevention, which includes vaccinations and pet health and nutrition advice.

As CUPS Community Development and Engagement Manager Amanda St. Laurent told CBC News, it’s a win-win. “The students get the hands-on practice, under supervision of course, working with the animals. And our clients — a lot of them who otherwise couldn't afford vet care — have their much-loved animals cared for.”

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