Published on February 18th, 2013 | by Barbara Kaluzny0
JJC’s Veterinary Program Helps Animals
Since 2000, the veterinarian department at Joliet Junior College has been teaming up with Joliet Township Animal Control to teach students the skills to pursue the career of their dreams, as well as save the lives of countless animals.
Each semester, students are assigned a dog or cat to take care of as a part of their studies. Many of the animals taken in by JJC are in poor condition, so the students not only have to provide for the basic needs of their animal, but may also have to provide them with extra extensive care.
JJC’s C.V.T. Facility Manager Susan Marma described the process.
“If it’s a dog, they do a heartworm test; they do vaccinations; they do weekly exams; they do flu calculations, and so we take a dog that could be very skinny and run-down, and by the end of the semester is very healthy and worked-up,” Marma said.
Improvements to the animals help to get them adopted faster from the animal hospital. Many are even taken in by their student after the semester is over.
“They get spayed or neutered; all their vaccines done, so when they’re adopted out, they’re adopted out at a lower cost, as well as most the time go to students or friends and family of the students,” said Patty Taylor, a member of the Joliet Township Animal Control. “So, they usually find a home for them, and they don’t even come back here looking for a home. So, that helps clear out cage space, which helps us make room for more animals.”
JJC vet student Laura Phillipp said, “They really try to find all of them really good homes. I think last semester we found all but four out of 26 homes, so it’s usually pretty successful in that.”
Some animals that are donated to JJC are not only elderly, pregnant or in need of surgery, but are fighting for their lives and need rescuing.
“They did take another one that needed emergency surgery; that otherwise was something that we wouldn’t have been able to afford,” Taylor said.
JJC’s department acted quickly and saved a dog that is now perfectly healthy and being permanently adopted by the semester owner, who had helped with the rescuing.
This program not only benefits the animals, but the students as well. Working with mannequins and other simulated equipment may be helpful at first, but it does not completely prepare students for the real thing like this program does.
“There’s nothing that takes the place of the real thing, so when they learn how to give a vaccination, they’re learning what it feels like on a real animal,” Marma said.
Phillipp said, “I also work at a vet clinic, with this program. If I didn’t (participate in the program), I would feel totally lost because they actually do have the animals, and I get to practice on them. It’s a really good opportunity for anyone who’s interested in this field.”
Overall, the results of the program prove it to be highly valuable and efficient.
“Kind of like a registered nurse, an RN, getting their certification and license, we have the same thing for veterinary medicine, and they have to take a state board test,” Marma said. “We have had a 100 percent passing of our students, which is phenomenal, so we are one of the best schools in the country.”