Tufts Students Expand Community Program

April 23, 2012

By Meagan Rock

Tufts veterinary students examine a dog at their annual wellness clinic.
Kelvin Ma/Tufts Univ.

Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine has always had a student body who sought to make a difference in the world with their veterinary education. We have big hopes and dreams for what we can accomplish and who we can help. Several years ago, Tufts students wanted to make a difference in the lives of pets and people living in public housing in Worcester, Mass. They designed a basic vaccine and wellness clinic and were able to see about 20 pets that day. This year we continued in their mission to serve and assist those who would otherwise not be able to afford treatment and care. Our clinic, which ran over a series of weeks, saw over 140 pets!

Kimberly Oparil (V14) and I, under the leadership of Dr. Emily McCobb, set big goals for this year's clinic. We wanted to expand the services that were offered in years past to be more than "just" rabies vaccines and basic wellness exams. So, we did! Under the supervision of Tufts faculty veterinarians, we offered heartworm testing and preventative, flea control products and more in-depth physical exams. We also addressed a concern we had that a large majority of the animals living in public housing were reproductively intact. Almost 50% of cats and dogs that we saw were in need of spay/neuter services. The main reason that clients said they did not have this done sooner was because of limited access to care and cost. So, we fixed that too (no pun intended)! We provided vouchers to residents to bring their animal to the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay and Neuter Clinic at Tufts—for free. And, if they needed a ride, we gave them one. It was seamless and we were able to spay or neuter about 75% of the animals in need. The rest are all due to come in before summer starts! We consider this to be a major accomplishment for our program, the residents and their pets.

This project could never have been as successful as it was if the students at Tufts were not as engaged as they are. We have over 60 different students participate in this program, providing over 300 volunteer hours of service. For a school with only 400 students (25% of whom are in clinics), this is incredible! We were impressed by how competent and interested each and every student volunteer was. There is no doubt that our classmates really care and seek to make that difference Tufts is so well known for.

Meagan Rock
Topher Cox

Overall, this was a great example of what can happen when you have an idea and you run with it. Giving back to your community and taking part in something that helps others is part of what makes the culture at Tufts so great. I am proud of the work we did this year and look forward to seeing how this program grows.


Meagan Rock is a second year student at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and an HSVMA student member. She also served as the director of the Massachussetts SPCA's Animal Care and Adoption Center in Boston from 2005-2010.