New mobile unit will expand shelter medicine outreach program

TrailerBy Sarah Carey

Have trailer, will travel: Thanks to a new mobile unit currently under construction, the University of Florida Veterinary Community Outreach Program will soon be able to broaden spay-neuter training for students.

The program will also be better able to accommodate regional shelter operations with limited access to medical services.

Dr. Brian DiGangi, a clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, said the new vehicle would be able to accommodate three students per clinical rotation, for a three-to-one student to instructor ratio. Veterinary clinicians will provide direct, on-site student supervision at all times, he said.

Seventy-five UF veterinary medical students will be able to participate in the mobile program; when those seats have been filled, the program might be able to accommodate qualified students from other universities, DiGangi added.

“As a new program component, we anticipate four surgical days per week during our initial year of operation, but this could expand to five days per week in subsequent years, further increasing the number of procedures performed,” DiGangi said.

The new VCOP Mobile program, which has a target launch date of fall 2016, has been made possible through a $283,040 grant from PetSmart Charities, DiGangi said.

“This grant will significantly enhance what our program can offer to veterinary medical students and most importantly, to animals at shelters that may not currently have access to veterinary care,” DiGangi said. “We are so grateful to PetSmart Charities for recognizing this need and supporting us in this way.”

DiGangi said while the lion’s share of expenses had been covered through the grant, additional funds need to be raised before the program can begin operating. Anyone seeking more information or to donate should contact Karen Legato at 352-294-4213.

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