The St. Petersburg College Veterinary Technology program celebrated both Veterinary Technicians Week and their one year anniversary in their new home on Ulmerton Road. There was a festive air as prospective students, alumni, and faculty mingled in the packed hallways. Groups from campus and the community were there to talk to students about the invaluable role that veterinary technicians play in the lives of animals.
These angels of mercy of the veterinary world are there at every step of a pet’s visit to a veterinarian or hospital. They perform examinations, take blood, administer medication and operate X-Ray machines. According to the Department of Labor, the field is expected to grow by 52 percent in the next eight years. Most people think of their local vet’s office when they picture veterinary technicians, but the opportunities go well beyond that. They are employed in caring for animals everywhere – from large farms, to aquariums, and even theme parks.
Ryan O’Shea, a graduate of the program, and Busch Gardens employee works as a technician and keeper at the park. He cares for, feeds and cleans the exotic animals there. On campus, he teaches a very popular class on exotic animals and is a member of the Veterinary Technology Society.
The club was on campus auctioning art by Laura Simms, a veterinary technologist and member. The sale directly supported groups caring for animals including the SPCA, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and The Little Cat Rescue. Philanthropy is in the clubs DNA, they support animal causes in Tampa Bay with charitable donations every year.
Another beneficiary of the club’s donations is Pinellas Animal Services, who had a booth at the event highlighting their programs that benefit both animals and humans. For instance, the Senior for Senior program pairs older cats and dogs with senior citizens in the community. It provides a good home and a caring companion for the animal and improves the quality of life for both of them. Studies have shown that the elderly are happier and healthier when they have a dog or cat living with them. They also run Pinellas Paws Cause, which supports the animal shelter. Pinellas County Animal Services is located right next door to the SPC Veterinary Technology Center, and provides a work experience program for students.
The tour of the program’s new facility was run entirely by students. Danielle DeMartini, who is working towards her Associates of Science showed prospective students around the facility. At the campus surgery, Chris, another SPC student described the procedures involved in performing surgery on an animal and took questions. Danielle followed up with information on the sorts of tasks that veterinary technicians perform every day. From there, the tour went to the radiogram room where X-Rays are taken. The members of the tour saw the bone structure of a wide variety of animals and reptiles, and learned about the latest technology used in veterinary medicine. At the end of the tour, the animals on site available for adoption were shown. After the tour, The Sandbox News met with Dr. Richard Flora, Dean of the School of Veterinary Technology. He felt the open house was very successful and was proud of the effort put forth by students and faculty.
Throughout the event, even as the crowd began to thin out, it was easy to see the strong sense of community here. The ties between the faculty, alumni, students and the animals they care for. This community is what made today’s open house a success, and ensures a bright future for graduates of the program.