Becker Veterinary Science Students Assist at Free Pet Clinics Throughout Worcester

Published on Monday, March 7th, 2011

“He’ll be fine, as long as he can see me,” said Maggie Wain of her 12-year-old seal point lynx, Teddy. Teddy was reluctant to leave his carrier in the community room of the Pleasant Street apartment building where he lives with Ms. Wain and two other “sister” cats.

Teddy was fine in the confident hands of Becker College sophomore James Teixiera, who was one of 15 veterinary science students who spent their Saturday on a service learning project, at free pet clinics held for residents of six Worcester Housing Authority properties.

Pets received physical examinations, vaccinations and nail clipping, and their owners were offered helpful information to keep pets healthy. Becker students, faculty and clinical instructors collaborated on the annual service project with students and faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Cummings School students initiated the event in 2009.

Charlotte Newell, DVM was onsite with Teixiera and Lisa Trainer, both pre-vet students. “Their animal handling and clinical skills are impressive,” said Dr. Newell. “This direct experience gives undergraduate students valuable skills before they get to veterinary school—vaccination technique, physical exams and interaction with owners.” Dr. Newell is a staff veterinarian and chair of equine studies at Becker.

“You get to meet a lot of people who are very grateful that you’re here to help them,” said junior Suzanna Richards of her pet clinic experience. She and sophomore Kerry Rizoli had assisted with several of the 19 patients, mostly cats and small breed dogs, seen by the team at their Main Street site.

Becker pre-vet students learn animal handling skills because the veterinary technician curriculum is built in to their bachelor’s degree, Dr. Newell explained. “By the end of their junior year, they have the equivalent of an associate’s degree and would be qualified to sit for the vet tech national board exam,” she said.

Animal science students at Becker have ample opportunity to gain hands-on experience at internships and service learning experiences. The Becker Animal Health Club also holds health and educational events for the public, including Pet Fest, held in the fall and spring, to showcase handling and agility skills and promote animal adoption and responsible pet ownership