2022 World Spay Day Clinics Continue to Serve Communities and Provide Hands-On Training for Veterinary Students

May 4, 2022

Heather Schrader, RVT, MCJ
Program Manager, Student Outreach

This year brought more uncertainty to scheduling in-person events because of the ongoing pandemic, but veterinary students across the country were determined to help their communities and the pets in need of spay/neuter services.  HSVMA provided grants in the amounts of $1000 - $2000 to five clinics which supported veterinary student participation.  The continued recognition of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month (February) and World Spay Day (February 22) allows veterinary professional students to not only address the overpopulation issue, but also gain important hands-on experience that will benefit them as they become professionals.  Over two hundred animals were spayed or neutered with support from our grants this year, the 12th year that HSVMA has provided these grants!

Kansas State University CVM and Prairie Paws

Our HSVMA Student Representatives organized a clinic in collaboration with Prairie Paws, a shelter which promises to provide compassionate care and placement for animals in need.  Despite a snow storm which caused hazardous driving conditions, the KSU mobile clinic was able to make it to the shelter safely and the team spayed/neutered 41 cats!  Luckily, these hardy Kansas kitties are used to the cold weather!  All recovered safely and received a brief reprieve from the harsh weather inside the shelter.



University of Wisconsin-Madison SVM and Green County Humane Society

For the second year in a row, University of Wisconsin-Madison SVM partnered with Green County Humane Society to organize two spay/neuter clinics.  With support from faculty adviser, Dr. Karen Hershberger-Braker, our HSVMA Student Chapter was able to perform surgeries for 70 cats!  Erika Mueller, a class of 2025 vet student, said this about her experience volunteering with the clinics: "Thank you HSVMA for helping provide these opportunities to aspiring veterinarians! My classmates and I had so much fun bonding over this experience and are grateful to be able to learn these skills in such an immersive way!"  Travis Neils, a vet student who will be graduating this spring, said "I have been participating in the spay/neuter clinics at Green County Humane Society and at the veterinary school since I was a first-year veterinary student. The experience that I have been able to gain through the clinics have been invaluable to my education and future career in shelter medicine. I cannot imagine my education without these clinics because they provide a direct conduit where I can apply the knowledge that I am learning in our curriculum. Additionally, the majority of my surgical and soft-tissue handling skills leading up to fourth-year were from these clinics. With the help of Dr. Hershberger, these clinics have also offered students a leadership position and provide them experience coordinating students/technicians to provide an efficient and encouraging environment to learn. I also feel like I have been able to work with my colleagues within and outside of my class which is very enriching to make those connections and learn from one another. I hope that these clinics are available for many years to come!"

St. George's University SVM and Grenada SPCA

Another ongoing collaboration between St. George's University SVM and Grenada SPCA offered several clinics where island residents could bring their pets for free spay/neuter services.  Twelve veterinary students participated in these surgeries as part of the Shelter Medicine Selective offered at the SGU vet school.  The students gained hands-on experience with every aspect of the clinics, from physical exams to high-quality/high-volume surgical techniques and anesthesia recovery.  Twenty-one surgeries were performed (20 dogs and one cat!) under supervision by SGU faculty and staff.  Rabies vaccinations and flea/tick preventatives were also provided.  Shelby Morales, a class of 2023 SGU SVM DVM candidate, said this of her experience: “Being able to work with our professors, expand our surgical experience and help out our community is one of the highlights of my time here in Grenada. I’m always one that tries to find opportunities to help where I can, and veterinary school hasn’t always allowed time for those kinds of activities but being able to participate as part of our elective to lessen the stray population in Grenada allowed that. Not only did this experience help emphasize topics we were learning in our selective, but it gave us a great insight into Shelter Medicine and population control while testing our skills and knowledge from school. I hope other students will get the opportunity to participate in services like this in the future.”

Louisiana State University SVM and Iberville Parish Animal Shelter/Pen Pals Animal Shelter and Adoption Center at Dixon Correctional Institute

The Louisiana State SVM took their mobile unit to two locations in order to provide spay/neuter services; Iberville Parish Animal Shelter and Pen Pals Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. Pen Pals is a program which started in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  With so many animals needing emergency shelter after the storm, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and Dixon Correctional Institute (DCI) assisted by taking in these animals and training inmates to care for them.  Along with a grant to support construction of the facility, the Humane Society of the United States, the Louisiana State University SVM and DCI established a permanent shelter on the grounds of the prison. This incredible partnership provides for animals in need and rehabilitates inmates by teaching them compassion and responsibility.  The LSU vet students spayed/neutered 22 animals among both shelters and provided other basic medical care to both dogs and cats who are getting ready to find their forever homes.  

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary students attending Cornell University CVM organized a clinic to provide services for clients in underserved areas of the Ithaca community.  The World Spay Day clinic provided wellness and surgical services to fifty cats.  Students enjoyed not only gaining the medical and organizational skills, but also helping the community and the pets they love.  With finances and resources stretched thin due to the pandemic, community members and students were happy to be able to participate in this valuable teaching opportunity.  Dr. Erin Henry, HSVMA faculty adviser and assistant clinical professor of shelter medicine, said this of the clinic: "Having opportunities like this, where students reinforce skills repeatedly over multiple cases in a single day, is essential to building both confident and competent future veterinarians." The Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell and HSVMA were proud to sponsor this year's clinic.