When shelter animals in the region need medical treatment — spay-neuter services or otherwise — shelter employees typically have to coordinate the animals’ transportation to the University of Florida.
To give its students hands-on experience, UF’s veterinary school provides the services pro bono to the shelters. The ones in places such as Bradford and Gilchrist counties often have difficulty getting animal care because of the long distance to Gainesville.
But thanks to a new mobile surgical unit at UF, connecting animal and vet is expected to get much easier.
UF’s Veterinary Community Outreach Program announced the mobile clinic during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. The program puts junior and senior veterinary students at UF into hands-on roles while backed by professors.
UF Clinical Associate Professor Brian DiGangi will be one of several veterinarians operating the mobile clinic, which will be tested out in the next few months before being used regularly at the shelters starting in early 2017.
The unit can hold one vet and one technician along with three veterinary students, he said.
“The students scrub in and do all the procedures, and we’re there to help them and guide them and answer questions,” DiGangi said. “They get a lot of hands-on experience doing the procedures themselves.”
In 2015, DiGangi applied for grants from PetSmart Charities ($283,040) and the Petco Foundation ($80,000), and they’re what funded the mobile clinic — a truck and a trailer — and the equipment for it.
Petco Foundation spokesman Soojin Yoon sent a statement to WUFT News on behalf of the organization: “The Petco Foundation invests in organizations that work hard to inspire and transform their communities to take action towards reducing euthanasia and implanting programs that save lives.”
The unit is equipped with four anesthesia machines, two tables for anesthesia preparation, two surgical tables, nine kennels, an oxygen concentrator, hot water and an emergency generator, DiGangi said.
Paul Dalbery, a third-year veterinary student at UF, said he’ll be one of the students working in the mobile clinic.
“We are really excited,” Dalbery said at Monday’s ceremony. “It’s really going to allow us to go out there and do what we can do to help the animals and the people.”