Sctea Vet Tech Award

Press Release                                                                                                                                                   
Date:
March 20, 2024
Contact: lgarrett@tctc.edu

(By Lisa Garrett)

TCTC’s Student Chapter of NAVTA Wins First-Place Award for

Student Community Involvement Project

PENDLETON, SC – Tri-County Technical College’s (TCTC) student chapter of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) brought home the first-place award for its Student Community Involvement Project—an annual pet adoption event—at the South Carolina Technical Education Association (SCTEA) conference in Myrtle Beach.

There are three Veterinary Technology programs among the state’s 16 technical colleges and TCTC is the only one with public pet adoptions.

The annual pet adoption event provides clinical learning experiences and enables students to develop competencies while addressing the overwhelming problem of animal overpopulation. In 2007, public pet adoptions were incorporated into the curriculum and today it’s one of the many ways students make a difference for the College and the community. 

“We’re proud to be recognized statewide for what we do every day, every semester, that includes day, night and weekend work. I, along with the entire faculty and staff, am so honored and humbled to work with such a fantastic group of students who know what it means to sacrifice their time to give back to our community,” said Stephanie Brown, Veterinary Technology program director. “I love the fact that they get to work and interact with these rescue groups and see firsthand the huge need that is in our community. I am in awe that they not only see it but are so eager to act upon it and help by volunteering their time, effort, and knowledge. I do not think there is a more deserving group of students to accept this award.”

Each semester the department takes in up to 38 dogs and 24 cats from shelters, humane societies, rescues and sanctuaries. Under the supervision and guidance of the College’s veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians, students use their acquired knowledge and hands-on skills to perform procedures that benefit each animal. These skills include complete physical exams, heartworm and feline leukemia testing, complete blood counts, urinalysis, microchip placement, vaccinations, baths, ear cytology, and any additional procedures that will lead to a successful course of treatment. In addition, each student is assigned an animal that they will train and socialize, transforming them into a highly adoptable pet.

Students work with multiple shelters in South Carolina and Georgia to aid in animal spaying/neutering and adoption. Four times a year, public pet adoption events are held on campus for cats and dogs from the animal shelters that have been cared for during the semester as part of the program. 

“Each student spends countless hours above and beyond lectures and labs to guarantee that the animals we take in receive the absolute best care and best opportunity for adoption. Shelters, humane societies and rescues are always full and usually lack the funds needed to obtain the care that homeless animals need. Our students enthusiastically step forward to bridge the gap,” said Brown.

“The community is invited to the Public Pet Adoption events to meet our animals, find a forever best friend, and learn about our program. Each adoption event is completely run by our students. They welcome our guests, facilitate “meet and greets” between animals and potential adopters, help new owners complete adoption paperwork and register microchips, and explain how to care for the new family member,” she said.

“Everybody is 100% invested,” she said.

From August 1, 2022, to December 31, 2023, the department provided 156 dogs and 142 cats with routine veterinary care and approximately 130 animals were successfully adopted.

The cost of adoption is $60 which includes animal spaying/neutering, microchip with registration, up-to-date vaccines, and current heartworm and flea prevention. Canines have been started on basic commands and leash manners and felines have been socialized.

A portion of the adoption fee is returned to each supported organization.

Shelters are overwhelmed and overburdened, said Brown.

According to the Animal Rescue Professional Association website, in just seven years, a single pair of cats and their offspring could produce a staggering total of 420,000 kittens. In addition, one dog can produce over 150 puppies in her lifetime. “Our spay/neuter surgeries positively impacted our community by reducing the population of cats by approximately 28,400 and the population of dogs by 23,400,” said Brown.

By working with rescue animals, students gain experience in seeing the shelter side of veterinary medicine vs. the clinical side, said Brown. “Graduates say working with these animals is the best experience they have as students. They get to see the shelter side of medicine that you typically don’t see in practice. It’s a great hands-on learning experience,” she said.

There is a huge need in our community to address the overpopulation of stray and neglected animals. Our goal is to support organizations that take in these animals by providing excellent care and services at no cost to them,” said Brown.

On Valentine’s Day 2023, the program hosted a Spay/Neuter day for a cat rescue. This event took place on a scheduled campus closure day and students could have enjoyed a day off. “However, we asked for volunteers to help with the event and almost every student showed up! We altered 60 cats, and their new families were able to pick them up from the rescue much sooner than planned. Our students gave up their day off to help both the cats and the people who cared for them. Our students are all in when it comes to helping animals in need,” said Brown.

“When our students volunteer their time, they exercise our mission statement of ‘Compassionate care for animals.’ It is a win-win for the organizations, our students, the animals, and the fortunate people who get to adopt them.”

Another long-term impact of the program is that students become deeply involved in community service and learn what it means to give back to our community. “I feel like the satisfaction they get from this project will encourage them to volunteer their time and services even after they have graduated from our program,” said Brown.

Currently there are 30 day and evening senior students and the department boasts a 100% job placement rate.

“We get calls from employers across the United States asking for our graduates because of the reputation of the program and our students’ expertise,” said Brown who says she and other instructors gauge student successes as their best form of advertisement or barometer for success. “Students make our program so well known when they go out and get jobs with the best of the best.”

Veterinary Technology graduates may pursue careers in a variety of areas, not just private practice. One graduate worked as a technician at Sea World in Orlando, and another was selected for a one-year rotating internship for graduate veterinary technicians through the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Large Animal Veterinary Medical Center. Angell Animal Medical Center, an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited facility in Boston that provides veterinary and specialty care each year to more than 50,000 animals from around the United States, also looks to TCTC when filling positions.

There is also the opportunity for graduates to transfer to a four-year institution to acquire a bachelor of arts degree in veterinary technology which increases the opportunities for them.

“Our program is an awesome starting point for a technician’s career,” said Brown.

TCTC’s program, which is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), is endorsed by the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians.

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About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, business administration, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit tctc.edu.