OSU vet students help animal shelter

Messenger photos by Linda Dillman

Madison County Humane Society kennel and medical technician Megan Rammel unloads a pair of canine carriers at the Ohio State University animal hospital in preparation for spay and neutering surgeries conducted by veterinary students.

Betty Peyton, Madison County Animal Shelter director, waits with a canine and a feline outside the Ohio State University animal hospital.

Ohio State University is a long drive for Madison County dogs and cats looking for a new home, but vets-in-training are helping to cut local humane society costs and reduce the pet population.

During the fall and winter quarters, workers from the Humane Society of Madison County shuttle animals between the London shelter and the university’s animal hospital for spay/neutering and minor surgical procedures.

Robin Sherman, OSU animal technician, said teams of students perform physical exams and draw blood when the cats and dogs arrive at the university, perform surgeries, and care for the animals until they are taken back to the humane society two days later.

“Each group of three students is assigned a dog or cat,” said Sherman. “It allows junior students to do surgery on live animals that will go to a new home or facility.

“Up until this point, students have practiced on animal cadavers and done bookwork. It is their first live surgery under the supervision of a board-certified surgeon, two surgical residents, a board-certified anesthesiologist, two anesthesia technicians, and two animal technicians. We do 12 surgeries each day and it’s pretty intense.”

The cooperative endeavor not only provides veterinary students with practical experience, but also helps the humane society control the pet population at a greatly reduced cost. Another benefit is that OSU staff members and students end up adopting a few of the animals that are taken to the hospital.

“The surgical program definitely helps us,” commented Madison County Animal Shelter Director Betty Peyton, who teamed up recently with kennel/medical technician Megan Rammel to transport several cats and dogs to the hospital for care.

“It saves us between $3,000 and $4,000 per session because, in addition to spaying, neutering and vaccinating for rabies, they correct other problems, if possible, which would cost us even more money.”

She continued, “We were able to take part in this program because our board secretary works at VCA Sawmill—a vet clinic—with Dr. Sue Crisp, whose husband, Dr. Steve Birchard, works at OSU. It was a great connection.”

In addition to her position with the Humane Society of Madison County, Rammel is a veterinary tech student at Columbus State. Through her work with the county and interaction with Ohio State University, Rammel plans to pursue a career as a vet and hopes to be accepted into the veterinary medicine program at OSU following graduation from Columbus State.

Rammel works with the 600 dogs and 300 cats that arrive annually at the county shelter, where she estimates the adoption rate for adoptable animals is between 90 percent and 95 percent.

In addition to the partnership with Ohio State, the county also conducts a foster care/training program for dogs at the Madison County Correctional Institute. Inmates apply and are interviewed before being accepted as handlers. Each is responsible for one of 30 dogs participating in the foster care program. The inmate teaches the canine basic commands, housebreaking, and hand signals, and cares for the dogs until the 90-day program is complete or the animal is adopted.

The Humane Society of Madison County is located at 1357 State Rte. 38 SE in London. The shelter is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. The adoption fee for dogs is $105 and includes microchipping, vaccinations, deworming, heart worm testing, and spay/neutering. The fee for cats is $60 and includes vaccinations, feline tests, and spay/neutering. For more information, call 1-800-852-PETS.

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