Today, I completed my first week at the SPCA’s Humane Alliance shelter medicine rotation. A group of five classmates and I made our way to North Carolina to learn about the in’s and out’s of a high volume spay and neuter clinic. I had preconceived assumptions about high volume surgery and assumed that to some degree animals would receive a lower quality of care than they would in a clinic setting. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was so far from the truth.
Humane Alliance is one of the most state-of-the-art spay and neuter clinics I have ever visited. Each animal is treated as an individual and attended to diligently by a team of seasoned veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and assistants. For almost a decade, they have taken on student externs to help keep the clinic running smoothly and provide learning opportunities to help students improve clinical skills. The animals are provided with inhalant anesthesia, anesthetic monitoring, optimal pain management, and post-surgical monitoring/rechecks.
I was most impressed by how much the clinic stressed Fear-Free handling. We had a morning lecture about how to implement these techniques and tomorrow we will have a handling laboratory with live patients. I think this is crucial to my career as a future veterinarian. I have spent too much time in clinics where animals are handled with inappropriate force. Come May, I will be in a leadership role where I can slowly start to implement these changes within my support staff and ensure all my patients have the most pleasant experience possible.
I am really fortunate to have been able to spend time at a rotation where I am not only honing my surgical skills and animal handling practices, but also making a direct difference in the lives of homeless animals. With each spay and neuter surgery, the animals take a huge step forward in finding their forever home. I find that to be the most fulfilling aspect of the rotation.