Veterinary outreach elective supports underserved communities in Alabama
Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine students often find themselves immersed in learning environments either in the classroom, lab or intensely studying their coursework. This year, third-year students have been given an opportunity to step outside of the classroom and learn by serving the community through a new elective course, “Veterinary Service Learning and Outreach.”
The course, made possible by a grant funded through he Auburn University Outreach program, allows students to travel to under-served communities and partner with local veterinarians to provide free veterinary services and education to pet owners.
This year’s class of 10 students recently took an outreach trip to Crossville, Alabama where the class partnered with Dr. Jeremy Deaton to offer a no-cost veterinary clinic out of Kilpatrick Hispanic Church. The students of the class provided wellness exams, vaccines, spay and neuter certificates, heartworm testing, nail trims and other basic pet care.
“This course is designed to enable future veterinarian to meet the challenges and rewards associated with provision of veterinary health care to underserved communities,” said course instructor Dr. Dawn Boothe.
The overall goal is to expose future veterinarians to the challenges encountered in the implementation of high quality veterinary outreach to local and distant underserved communities.”
The clinic served as a resource to the community not only to help animals through basic veterinary care, but also to nurture the community by partnering with Dr. Deaton. Activities and games were available to children and families, aiming to connect the community and its people and animals.
“All of the clients I saw were incredibly happy for our help, and I was touched by how one gentleman was so glad that he hugged (another student) and I after we took care of his puppies. It wasn’t for myself that I participated in this course and the clinic in Crossville, but it’s difficult to not be changed by experiences like these, and I will remember them for a long time,” said Keshley Allen, c/o 2018.
The clinic hosted by Auburn students was made possible by Dr. Deaton’s partnership with the college and his veterinary service in Centre, a city in close proximity to Crossville. Dr. Deaton is the managing veterinarian at Cherokee County Pet Clinic and the owner of Deaton Veterinary Services, a mobile veterinary service for both companion animals and livestock.
In only the second year of this class, course coordinator Dr. Dawn Boothe anticipates that the elective class will expand to additional communities in the future. The course has been rewarding for current and past students enrolled in the class.
“Being a part of this experience helped me realize even in an underdeveloped community, owners still find compassion in their animal’s medical needs and are very grateful when we came in to help,” said Katharine Kehrt, c/o 2018.
The class plans to take two more outreach trips to under-served communities in Alabama throughout the remainder of the semester. The last trip will be to Guntersville, AL, where the class has partnered with the United Cherokee Ani-Yun-Wiya Nation to provide a wellness fair to tribal community members.