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Since 2003, students at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine have served as the primary source of care for local rescue groups in North Florida. The college’s Veterinary Community Outreach Program, a first-of-its-kind clinical rotation, gives students hands-on surgical training for spay and neuter procedures in a stationary clinic three days a week. Together, the students complete nearly 3,000 spay and neuter surgeries per year.
Committed to making a bigger impact, program coordinators wanted to bring these services to rural municipal shelters with little or no access to veterinary care, which puts pets in danger of being euthanized.
With the help of a grant from PetSmart Charities® for more than $280,000, the Veterinary Community Outreach Program secured a customized mobile spay and neuter trailer called VCOP Mobile. The mobile unit not only allows veterinary students to gain more hands-on surgical training, but also helps the school reach underserved communities and provide care to thousands of pets in need each year. The school has received a positive response from rural shelters and two of them plan to install shoreline electric hookups to reduce operating costs.
On November 7, the Veterinary Community Outreach Program unveiled the VCOP Mobile to the community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
“We have a number of students that have already asked when and how they can sign up to be a part of the mobile program as well as volunteer to help out on our practice runs this fall,” said Brian DiGangi, DMV, MS, DABVP, clinical associate professor of Shelter Medicine at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We estimate that we will be able to do 12 to 15 surgeries per day when it is active.”