Companion and lab animal emphasis graduates first cohort

Katelyn Westerholm and Flossy

Katelyn Westerholm and Flossy, a hound mix at Montgomery County Animal Care and Control, spend some quality time together. The field trip to the shelter is a component of the companion and lab animal emphasis in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.

By Amy Loeffler

At the Montgomery County Animal Care and Control shelter, a tan-colored hound mix named Flossy wagged her tail in anticipation of being let out of her kennel for a walk.

Flossy wasn’t just going for a walk, though. She was becoming a member of the pack that was instrumental to the first cohort of Dr. Luciana Bergamasco’s companion and lab animal emphasis in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.

“We learned about career options in the research field, in the public health sector developing vaccines, and in companion animal management in disaster situations.” — Katelyn Westerholm

The class gives students interested in animal science a more diverse view of the field through hands-on learning. On the day of Flossy’s debut, the class was learning about animal shelter management and canine behavior and health.

Students interested in applying for veterinary school, like Dillon Didehvar, a senior from Hockessin, Delaware, enjoyed the experiences and guest lectures.

“I really liked the different vets who visited the class. We have had everyone from a vet who spoke about holistic medicine to a board-certified veterinary cardiologist,” Didehvar said.

The hours students spend in this class can give them a competitive edge if they decide to apply to vet school.

“We learned how to manage aggressive animals, give CPR, and sew sutures on dogs and cats using mannequins,” said Jasmine Mingo, a senior from Richmond, Virginia, who plans to work as a veterinary technician.

Lab animals were a component of the syllabus too, and students completed training to work with rats and mice in a laboratory. Students also learned about lab animal management.

“This class made us aware of other careers in animal science beyond the traditional avenues of vet medicine and farming,” said Katelyn Westerholm, a senior from Stafford, Virginia. “We learned about career options in the research field, in the public health sector developing vaccines, and in companion animal management in disaster situations.”

Flossy the hound mix learned something, too — humans need her just as much as she needs them.

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