CSU veterinary teaching hospital holds open house
It’s a humbling thought, indeed: If every human being disappeared from Earth, most other life forms would survive quite nicely, thank you. Lacking our inclusion or input, the natural pecking order would continue, or fare even better.
Without the plethora of other species, however, people would be in dire trouble. Just ask that long-ago seafaring farmer/rancher/floating zookeeper/pet parent, Noah. His extensive, life-saving cruise couldn’t begin until every animal was safely on-board. Noah captained his ship, but its precious living cargo was equally indispensable.
Now as then, all successful interaction between we humans and other species demands that their health and well-being be maintained not simply for their sake, but for ours. Into that tenuous scenario enter professionals whose jobs keep our life-sustaining ship on an even keel. Veterinarians are essential to our very existence on this planet.
Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital is one of the finest such schools in the country, likely the world. Beginning in 1907, when the program was formally established, it has greatly expanded. Currently, $23 million in hospital renovations are planned through 2020 to upgrade the 55,000 square feet facility.
On Saturday, April 13, 2019, the facility held its annual open house, welcoming the public. The event was presented by first and second year CSU vet students.
A majority of visitors were those in pursuit of veterinary careers. Parents brought not only older children but also toddlers and pre-schoolers, whose eager attention in all things animal confirmed interest begins early in life.
Open house activities included table displays, free handouts, demonstrations (i.e. working police dogs), lectures, a petting zoo, and more. Campus clubs staffed tables with representatives eager to answer questions about their specialties, which ranged from exotics to robotic veterinary technology.
At the petting zoo, kids (the human kind) interacted with kids (the goat kind), adult goats, horses and alpacas. Owner of the two horses on duty, Ria Brock, eagerly introduced them to new fans.
Lacey, is a 15-year-old registered Quarter Horse mare. The sweet, stocky chestnut stood quietly for all who wanted to pet her. In the adjoining stall stood Gus, an equally unruffled, Paint gelding that gazed serenely at the milling crowd. At 20-plus years of age, he’s likely seen it all. Thus, Gus took the sights and sounds of hundreds of strolling, chatting people in stride.
Elsewhere in the large room, children donned surgical garb in sincere efforts to save the lives of faux animal patients. The plushes had been cut open for a succession of young animal lovers to suture (using some real surgical equipment) over and over. Success: all stuffed animals survived their ordeal.
Off a bit by itself was an interactive Virtual Animal Anatomy – VR Build tent. A computer monitor displayed images seen and produced by visitors whose flashing robotic equipment, reminiscent of Star Wars gear, is intended for future use to “seamlessly integrate multispecies comparative animal anatomy” and will reduce cadaver use.
Lindsay Adelmeyer is a member of the Zoological Medicine Society who introduced visitors to turtle shells, snake skins, bones and specimens preserved in jars. A first year vet student from Phoenix, Ariz., Adelmeyer wants to incorporate exotics into a small animal veterinary practice. As a child, she had a pet bearded dragon, red-earred slider turtles, a variety of fish species and more. Adelmeyer subsequently served as a vet tech (in exotics) for five years prior to attending CSU and, while living in Daytona Beach, Fla., worked with a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. And then, there was raccoon rehab, too — a totally separate story.
Another first year student, Courtney McGinness, journeyed all the way to Fort Collins from Massachusetts to attend CSU. At Saturday’s event, she assisted children at the Student Association of Veterinary Students tables in mastering surgical attire, including face masks, to assure a “sterile” environment. Kids concentrated as they stitched up creatures whose very stuffed lives depended upon the procedures.
In another room, a large, living animal allowed people to listen to his heartbeat. Royal, a chestnut Quarter Horse in his 20s, passively stood as a stethoscope, passed from person to person, pressed against his side. Human jaws dropped as cries of “Oh!” and “Oh, my!” were repeated over and over. Royal also wore a body sheet bearing a handy chart of the location of his internal organs.
The day’s first two lectures drew immense crowds. “So You Want To Be A Vet?” was a Q&A panel discussion with five CSU vet students. The young women came from diverse backgrounds and veterinary interests.
One had been raised around beef cattle; another switched her major career interest from small animals to research; a third told how her choice of veterinary schools had to be at one that also offered marching band; the fourth had enjoyed travel to Nicaragua and other countries. As is the veterinary field, the five students’ responses demonstrated that vets themselves are diverse and uniquely interesting.
The day’s second lecture was presented by W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, a Laporte-based, non-profit facility dedicated to “improving the quality of life for wolves and wolf dogs through Rescue, Sanctuary & Education.”
Not only was the meeting room filled to capacity with standing-room only space, a large overflow sadly had to step back out into the main lobby. Those lucky enough to make the cut learned fascinating facts about wolves and wolf dog hybrids.
Among these tidbits of knowledge is that when wolves were hunted to near-extinction in most of the 48 contiguous states, other species suffered, waterways were diminished, plant variety died off, etc. When wolves were re-introduced, not only did the natural balance of things gradually correct itself but the diversity of game animal populations actually increased, said Michelle Proulx, W.O.L.F.’s Animal Care & Education Programs director.
Proulx noted that there are currently more than 300,000 pure wolves and wolf dogs kept as pets in the United States. Further, approximately 150,000 are born annually to be sold in the exotic pet trade. It’s estimated that, due to their challenging natures, 80 to 90 percent of these animals will be killed by the age of 2.
At that discussion’s conclusion, a four-legged representative named “Outlaw” was available outside. The handsome wolf-dog hybrid proved to be high-energy but, rather than overtly aggressive as some might have expected, shy “Outlaw” preferred to interact with his handlers but avoided all other human interaction or even eye contact.
As the day progressed, other lectures spanned the diversity of veterinary careers. The Voss Teaching Hospital offers similar variety in its hospital-wide, small animal services. These include avian, exotic and zoological medicine; cardiology; dentistry and oral surgery; dermatology and otology; neurology; oncology; ophthalmology; community practice; emergency, critical and urgent care; general (soft tissue) surgery; internal medicine; nutrition; orthopaedic medicine and mobility; orthopaedic surgery; theriogenology.
In addition, Equine Services run the gamut: ambulatory; emergency/critical care; sports medicine and rehabilitation; surgery and lameness; theriogenology. Livestock Services includes medicine, surgery and field service. In addition, many ancillary services are available at the teaching hospital.
Anyone seeking further information about CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, its services, or careers in the veterinary field, may visit http://www.csuvth.colostate.edu, or call (970) 297-5000. ❖
— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.