The Profound Influence of Humane Alliance on the Community

by Danielle Feld

December 12, 2013

Students pose next to Humane Alliance's sign
Danielle Feld

When asked to choose between the beach and the mountains it’s easy. My answer is always mountains. That’s one of the countless reasons I’m drawn to Asheville, N.C. From local art and food to breathtaking scenery and an incredibly friendly environment, Asheville has so much to offer. So when I learned about Humane Alliance through word of mouth and the University of Florida’s Shelter Medicine program, I jumped at the opportunity to apply for a two-week externship. When my classmate and I arrived in Asheville, after an eight-hour road trip, we were ready for some great music, fine dining, and surgery time. Little did we know, this experience would far exceed our expectations

I am currently a fourth year student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. With a strong interest in small animal private practice, I understand the importance of the animal human bond, and I want to spend my career contributing to this invaluable unity.

Humane Alliance is a high-volume, low-cost spay neuter nonprofit organization established in 1994 to address the devastating euthanasia problem. Since then, Humane Alliance’s sterilization procedures and community outreach have grown to benefit not only Western North Carolina, but also the entire nation. Through student training programs, as well as continuing education for current veterinarians, this organization’s passion for animal wellbeing is unmistakable. The level of care and attention that the doctors and technicians offer the student externs, while still offering the highest level of care to the animal patients, is impeccable.

Dr. Saxton and Dr. Brestle are truly compassionate veterinarians whose ultimate goal is to offer the externs the best learning experience possible. While I had a decent amount of experience with performing spays and neuters in other shelter environments prior to this externship, I left this short two-weeks feeling incredibly confident in not only my surgical skills, but also my monitoring of neonatal patients, pre-, intra-, and post-operatively. The doctors carefully walked me through each procedure, which differs depending on the species, age, and the reproductive status of each animal. Through repetition and extreme attention to detail, I was able to perform orchiectomies and ovariohysterectomies in the most efficient manner to benefit the patient and minimize anesthesia time. By the end of my time at Humane Alliance, I had completed nearly 50 surgeries and improved my spay time by over half, creating at new personal record of a seven minute cat spay!

Danielle Feld performing a spayDanielle Feld

While a great deal of time was spent in surgery, the program also focused on other areas of operating a spay-neuter clinic, with a large emphasis on the community outreach component and its vital importance in educating the public. The Humane Alliance services all of western North Carolina. In order to make this possible, the organization employs a skilled, compassionate transporter to bring animals to Asheville for sterilization each morning and return them the following day, ready for adoption. The transporter travels hours each day to various humane societies throughout the state. To help demonstrate the importance of community outreach, each extern went with the animal transporter to a different location to learn first-hand how the process works, as well as see the beautifully constructed and managed humane societies throughout western North Carolina. While the scenic drive through the mountains is a huge perk to the experience, I was thoroughly impressed with the outstanding structure of the various humane societies and their outstanding adoption rates. The North Carolina community truly cares about providing these animals with a home.

My experience at Humane Alliance not only refined my spay and neuter skills, but also gave me a new perception on how much the veterinary profession can impact the community. I plan on taking this insight and applying it to my veterinary career in hopes of expanding society’s awareness of the growing euthanasia problem.

Danielle Feld holding a puppy

Danielle Feld is a 4th year veterinary student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. While she loves the Gator nation, after graduation, she hopes to continue her career as a small animal veterinarian in the mountains of North Carolina with her fiancé, two dogs Chloey and Dewey, and cat, Chicken.