Purdue sends equipment, students to help Humane Society shelter

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A pilot program this summer is giving Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine students surgical experience while helping the Almost Home Humane Society prepare shelter animals for adoption.

The school has set up a spaying/neutering surgery site at the humane society’s shelter in Lafayette with equipment that isn’t needed on campus during the summer, said Lynetta Freeman, associate professor of small animal surgery and biomedical engineering.

Without the in-house surgical unit, the shelter has to transport animals to local veterinarians’ offices or the Purdue campus for spaying or neutering before they are adopted. Michelle Warren, executive director of Almost Home Humane Society, said that involves added costs for the nonprofit shelter and often means adopting individuals or families must wait to take their pets home.

“Our board and staff were looking for ways to cut costs and still provide for the animals,” she said. “For at least two years, we have been talking about doing on-site spays and neuters. Then we received a bequest that let us renovate an attic space for surgeries.”

Warren said she mentioned the new space and the desire to do on-site spaying and neutering to Freeman and the idea for the summer program was born.

Freeman has been taking two fourth-year veterinary students and one veterinary technician student to the shelter once a week since the beginning of July. The students perform the surgeries under Freeman’s supervision. They do between four and six surgeries each week.

“The students like it because it’s real-life experience for them,” Freeman said.

But the program will end Aug. 18 because the equipment will be needed back on campus for the beginning of the fall semester, Freeman said.

Warren said that while the humane society doesn’t have the thousands of dollars needed to buy the equipment in its budget currently, it is looking for ways to get the funds.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish is showing a mutual benefit,” Freeman said. “If so, we will try to find a donor or grant program to provide equipment for the humane society. Purdue students could go over once a week, and area veterinarians might also volunteer.”

“The goal is to have all animals spayed or neutered before they go to the adoption floor,” Warren said. “Adopters could take animals right home either from the shelter or from off-site events.

“I’m anticipating we’ll have substantial cost savings while still being able to provide the best possible care for the animals.”

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