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Howard G. Sackett Center students get clinic in small animal surgeries

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GLENFIELD — Small animal care students at Howard G. Sackett Technical Center got a lesson in surgical procedures during a spay and neuter clinic.

“It’s a huge benefit to the students,” class instructor Blake L. Place said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity,” said Bea B. Schermerhorn, Hammond, Spay/Neuter/Now founder. “It shows them the different aspects of veterinarian services.”

During the Friday clinic, 30 cats — including several strays found by Lewis County Department of Social Services staff near their office on outer Stowe Street in Lowville — and seven dogs were fixed. Students took turns viewing surgical procedures in the organization’s mobile clinic, the Neuter Commuter, then monitoring animals while their anesthesia was wearing off. “They have to keep the environment sterile,” Mrs. Place said.

The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services small animal care program, now in its fourth year, prepares students for a variety of careers, including veterinarian, veterinary assistant, veterinary technician, groomer, animal caretaker and zoologist, she said.

And, for most of the students, the clinic was their first experience with animal surgeries, Mrs. Place said.

Senior Nathaniel G. Aubin, Copenhagen, admitted that he got “a little woozy” while observing a canine castration procedure done by veterinarian Michael N. Romp of Vermont. Mr. Aubin, who is considering a career in the Navy, said he hadn’t planned to go into veterinary science and definitely does not now.

However, he said that Friday’s session was very interesting and that Mrs. Place’s class itself is enjoyable and informative. “Best teacher I’ve ever had,” Mr. Aubin said. “By far.”

Spay/Neuter/Now general manager Kevin T. Mace said Friday was one of the first times his organization, now celebrating its 20th year of operation in St. Lawrence County, has held a clinic in a school setting, but he expects it won’t be the last.

Along with offering hands-on training, the event provided a platform to talk with students about “the issues that come with animal overpopulation,” he said.

Mr. Mace said his organization not only provides low-cost spay and neutering services for low-income and military families, but gives rabies and distemper vaccinations to animals that are lacking them. Historically, nearly all the animals seen at the clinics have not been up to date on their shots, he said.

Students also brought in baked goods and other items for sale, with proceeds going to Spay/Neuter/Now.

“It’s just an awesome opportunity to do community service,” Mrs. Place said.

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