Purdue Vet Students Are on the Move with Mobile Spay/Neuter Unit

Priority 4 Paws aims high in its second year

Mobile Spay/neuter clinicPurdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine began its innovative Priority 4 Paws Shelter Medicine and Surgery Program in July 2012. It prepares fourth-year veterinary students for clinical practice through experience in shelter medicine’s different surgical environments.

Shelter medicine is a specialty for veterinarians in which they care for a variety of homeless pets — treating illness, performing surgeries and preparing them for adoption. These doctors manage special conditions in the shelter setting, including a high volume of pets and preventing the spread of illness and disease.

As PetSmart Charities® focuses the majority of our grants on spay/neuter projects, we jumped in with immediate support for Purdue’s program. The mobile surgical training program is now in its second year.

What the students do

Priority 4 Paws is a 3-week elective rotation available to fourth-year students. As part of their training, students spend 2 weeks on the mobile surgical unit, traveling to shelters to perform spay/neuter surgeries. During the third week, students focus on shelter medicine in a single location. 

PetSmart Charities’ support covers spay/neuter surgery experience — 2 weeks of the rotation. Over those 2 weeks, the students participate in 8 days of surgery and perform an average of 60 surgeries each. Purdue estimates that in the upcoming term, students will perform 40-50% of those surgeries on kittens and puppies who are younger than 5 months of age. This helps ensure veterinary students are well equipped to perform early-age spay/neuter surgeries.

Cat spay/neuter surgeryWhy this program is different

Purdue veterinary students travel to a number of shelters to perform spay/neuter surgeries. Only a handful of U.S. veterinary colleges have similar mobile units.

Priority 4 Paws works with 12 shelters — all within 115 miles of the university — to ensure that all the students have enough pets on which to perform surgeries.

The program performs these pre-adoption surgeries free of charge for its shelter partners. Always struggling to stretch their dollars, shelters are able to save even more pets because of Purdue’s program.

According to veterinarian Willie M. Reed, the dean of the College, one of the program’s goals is to encourage a “philanthropic spirit” among the students that they’ll take with them wherever they go after graduation. In their future practice, they may be more likely to volunteer in their local communities and support mobile spay/neuter clinics.

Indiana pets and adopters gain an advantage

Students operate on pets who are available for adoption. Because the Priority 4 Paws mobile unit travels to a dozen shelters, the region has plenty of spayed or neutered pets for potential pet parents. Indiana adopters are likely to find their perfect match more easily thanks to the Priority 4 Paws program.

If you live in Northwest Indiana and you’ve adopted a pet since July 2012, you may be a part of Priority 4 Paws’ success!

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