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Foothill vet tech program offers practical training with small pets


Town Crier File Photo
A Foothill College veterinary tech student handles a recently treated rat at a previous small-pet surgical session.

More than 40 Foothill College students, one instructor and six Bay Area veterinarians are scheduled to perform small-animal surgeries on pets Sunday.

The surgeries will include spay and neuter procedures on rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats and mice, as well as teeth trimming on rabbits and a chinchilla. The animals are all clients of the Bay Area-based North Star Rescue and the Cavy Care Guinea Pig Shelter & Sanctuary of Sacramento, both nonprofit organizations. The surgical services are not available to the public, nor can the college accept walk-in animal patients.

The team donates its services and expertise to help the more than 20 small animals become more adoptable.

The animals do not have owners. Event organizers hope that after the surgical procedures, people will adopt them. Many of the patients are rats discovered in the home of a hoarder.

“Veterinary technology is a hands-on job, and students must receive hands-on training to fully master the concepts we teach in the classroom,” said Foothill College Veterinary Technology instructor Sandra Gregory, R.V.T., M.Ed., who graduated from the Foothill Veterinary Technology program in 2001. “The more hands-on training they receive, the more qualified and confident professionals they’ll be when you and your sick or injured pet arrive at the veterinarian’s office.”

Under Gregory’s supervision and working with local veterinarians, the Foothill students from beginning to advanced levels will oversee numerous tasks at the event. Working as two-member teams, each pair will care for two to three animals during pre-op, operation and post-op phases.

“There are no other places that do what we do for small animals,” Gregory said. “There are many spay and neuter events for dogs and cats, but there is nothing like this for small animals at any other vet-tech school or university – nor is there a shelter that does surgeries on this level.”

The small-animal surgery experience is a unique learning opportunity for Foothill students. Participating in multiple surgical procedures is a rare experience that students can add to their professional resumes. In addition, the time students devote to the surgeries can be applied to the program’s required internship hours.

“Everyone benefits from this event – the rescue groups, the students, the animals and the veterinarians,” Gregory said.

If the animals were to undergo the operations at a shelter or private animal hospital, the costs could range from $100 to $300 per animal per procedure.

A combination of classroom lecture, lab assignments and on-site clinical experiences, the Foothill College Veterinary Technology program is one of seven such programs in California and the only one accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education & Activities.

Students who complete the 93-unit program earn an associate in science degree and are eligible for state licensing as a registered veterinary technician.

To be eligible for the two-year program’s admission process, students must complete general education and prerequisite courses.

For more information, visit foothill.edu/bio/programs/vettech.

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