EDITORIAL: College-shelter partnership is good for dogs
April 13--Criticism of the relationship between the Susquehanna Animal Shelter and the veterinary science program at the State University College of Technology at Delhi is unwarranted.
The shelter -- like its counterpart, the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society in Delhi -- sends animals to the college for care. Under the arrangement, the shelters get free health care for homeless animals while veterinary science students get real-world experience in the work that they will take on in their careers as veterinarians or veterinary technicians.
It's a good arrangement -- for the shelters, the college and, most of all, for the animals.
Our editorial pages have been the scene, in recent weeks, of a battle between some who don't like the arrangement and those who see and defend its value.
Count us among the latter.
People have a soft spot for animals, especially pets. We'll tolerate atrocities against our fellow man far more easily than we'll accept the mistreatment of a dog, cat or other furry, feathered or scaly friend. But it's easy to take that emotion to an extreme.
One letter-writer described the college's use of anesthesia as "disturbing." An anonymous writer in our "Sound-off" section called it "unnecessary" and "offensive."
A college official responded, saying the allegations were "misleading."
We decided to take a look.
We found that the college takes on up to 25 dogs, from the above-named shelters and from Bernard's Beagle Rescue of Western and Central New York. The dogs spend up to a month in the program. They are chosen based on their own need for the treatments that students are learning and practicing at the time, not given unnecessary treatment for any other reason.
In addition to treatments that may require anesthesia -- things such as spaying or neutering, teeth or ear cleaning, or removal of polyps or tumors -- the dogs get routine care, such as de-worming and vaccinations.
And, yes, the budding vet techs practice such skills as intubation and catheterization during the course of those treatments.
All of this free-of-charge care is a big benefit to the shelters, which rely mostly on donations to pay for the services they provide, and for the animals, which leave the program in better physical condition then when they entered it.
That does not even take into account the hours of outside-the-lab interaction the dogs have with people who love animals so much they have made animal care their life's work. They get more one-on-one time than is possible in shelters and, according to college officials, are often adopted by friends and family of the students or by the students, themselves.
SUNY Delhi's vet tech program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The students are monitored in all procedures by five licensed veterinarian teachers.
We're satisfied that those involved have the welfare of the dogs at the forefront of their thoughts and actions.
We don't doubt that some of those who questioned the participation of the Cooperstown-area shelter in the program meant well. We believe they just did not have enough information. We do wonder about the motives of those who continue to seek to stir up emotions with inflammatory language now that the program and its partnership with shelters have been subjected to scrutiny.
The partnership is good for the shelters, good for the students and good for the dogs. We applaud it.