July 20, 2009–Three LaGuardia Community College veterinary technology students and a college veterinary technician have volunteered this summer to provide free veterinary services at several remote Indian reservations as part of a Humane Society of the United States outreach program.
The Society’s Fields Services Program, also known as Rural Area Veterinary (RAV) Services, will offer the students, Allison Berry, Janice Israel and Stephanie Phillips, and vet tech Caesar Colon, the rare opportunity to go to underserved rural communities where poverty and geographic isolation prevent its residents from seeking veterinary care for their pets. They are among 35 to 40 vet tech students who are participating in the program.
According to Dr. Eric Davis, the program’s director, the program combines high quality direct-care veterinary field clinics with clinical training for future veterinary professionals to improve the health and welfare of animals in remote rural communities.
“This project blends community service and veterinary education,” said Dr. Susan Kopp, professor in the Veterinary Technology program. “I know they will work very hard, and my hope for them is that it will be a growing and enriching experience that they will remember for a long time.”
Allison and Stephanie will be splitting their nine-day stint between three reservations in Nevada, while Janice and Caesar have been assigned to a reservation in Washington State. At each of the reservations, they will be assisting veterinarians and vet students in the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats, to administer anesthesia, vaccinate animals and provide other medical services.
“The reservations have large populations of dogs and cats because the residents cannot afford to neuter or spay their pets,” said Stephanie. “This project will help the communities deal with their population problem. It is very rewarding to reach out to people and help their animals.”
“Ever since Hurricane Katrina, when volunteers were enlisted to provide care for pets that were left behind, I said that if something else happens I wanted to lend a helping hand,” said Caesar who was unable to go to New Orleans during the natural disaster because he was working at the ASPCA. “The knowledge we will receive and the experience we will come away with will be priceless.”
The three students, who took their national licensing exam in June, and are due to graduate in September, are hopeful that when they begin their nine-day mission on August 19, they will be only a few weeks away from becoming licensed veterinary technicians. To prepare for the less-than-luxurious living conditions that await them, they will pack utensils and sleeping bags and gear themselves for bedding down on any available floor. And to get to their first reservation, Stephanie and Allison will have a nine-hour ride after arriving in the Nevada airport.
“It will be a nice way to end our experience at LaGuardia,” said Janice.
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Located in Long Island City, Queens in New York City, LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges. Founded in 1971, the College has been recognized as an innovator in educating students who are under prepared for college work and/or are not primary English speakers. A catalyst for development in western Queens and beyond, LaGuardia serves New Yorkers and immigrants from 160 countries through 50 majors and certificate programs, enabling career advancement and transfer to four-year colleges at twice the national average. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.