Getting paws-on experience

Dogs and cats may not be leaving Pierce College smiling, but their owners will be thanks to the Veterinary Technology program performing three spays/neuters a week every friday.

Students majoring in Veterinary Technology will assist in animal spay and neutering as part of the Clinical Procedures in Animal Laboratory class at Pierce College.

Director of the Veterinary Technology program, Dr. Jennifer Adelini, instructs and performs the surgery while her students care for the animals before and after the procedure.

Adelini said it’s one of the advanced level courses in the program that the senior students take to learn about helping in surgical procedures.

“They learn how to administer medications, help with surgery and help with the recovery after the surgery of the patient,” Adelini said. “It gives them the chance to learn the skills that they learned earlier and apply them to a real patient.”

After students finish the Veterinary Technology program they are able to take the exam that will allow them to attain their veterinary technician license. Once the students get their license they can use these skills to work by assisting veterinarians and helping care for animals in need of medical assistance, Adelini said.

Instructional Assistant for the Veterinary Technology program, Angela Killips, has been assisting the class for 10 years now. Killips provides the students with any assistance that they may need.

“I help all the students prepare the catheter and the other nursing care that they do while Dr. Adelini does the surgeries,” Killips said. “If a student can’t place a catheter or draw the blood, they’ll have a certain amount of attempts before I’ll take it for them.”

Ariana Banuelos, who majors in Veterinary Technology, said this is as close as it gets to the real thing.

“We do from step A to step Z,” Banuelos said. “I call the client and make sure they bring their animal. We do the physical exam, we get the IV in, we’re doing every single thing that we would be doing if we were in practice.”

Banuelos said even students who are already in practice don’t get to be as involved in the process as they get to be in the class.

“Some of us are just at a clinic and all we do is watch as the workers, that have been there, do everything,” Banuelos said.

The schedule for the semester gets filled by patients that are found by advertising in the community or by students in the class. However, Adelini said there are certain requirements when scheduling in a patient.

“They need to be relatively young,” Adelini said. “They need to be pretty friendly because we have students handling them and we want them to feel comfortable with the animals. They need to not have any other health problems.”

Banuelos said getting to work with real animals in the class helps those who are fearful.

“If you haven’t done it before, you don’t really want to do it,” Banuelos said. “You’re scared; you don’t want to hurt the animal. Doing it here with Adelini and Angela guiding you, they seem more confident of what you’re doing. It gives you the confidence that you need, so that when you go to practice outside then you’re like ‘okay I got it, I’m more comfortable with it.’”

The class will be performing the three surgeries a week, every Friday, throughout the semester. To schedule your pet in or for questions, contact Angela Killips at killipsa@piercecollege.edu