PSPCA pets get a helping hand from vet students

My colleague Mari Schaefer reports that Pennsylvania SPCA has launched a new program matching needy animals with the new generation of men and women who will soon be caring for them.

Homeless animals at the PSPCA are now getting a little help from veterinary students across the county. And the vets-in-training are getting exposure to shelter medicine.

This week, fourth-year veterinary students began a two-week externship program designed to teach them more about how caring for animals in a shelter differs from a general veterinary practice.

Up to four specially-selected students at a time will participate in the program during the next several months. The students, who will be assigned a resident dog and cat during their tenure, will assist the shelter’s veterinary staff in clinics and surgery. They will also learn more about animal management within a shelter, diseases and prevention, adoption programs and animal behavior.

"The purpose of the program is to teach veterinary students about all aspects of shelter medicine, " said Aime Berman, director of veterinary medicine for the Pennsylvania SPCA. “They will gain insight into how a shelter runs, how to care for shelter animals and how practicing veterinary medicine in a shelter differs from general practice.

She said the program will give future veterinarians hands on experience they can't get in school.

"Up to this point in their education, a lot of the information they have received about animal shelters in general has been from a book or classroom,” said Berman.

So far, vet students from the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Mississippi State University, University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota are participating.

The shelter headquarters is located at 350 E. Erie Avenue in Philadelphia. The PSPCA also has adoption centers in Wellsboro, Centre Hall, Danville and Montrose.