100 Years, 100 Stories
Tucked in a back room behind the laboratory in the Veterinary Technology facility, there is a bright room lined with cages on one wall; further down the hall, there are well-used-but-clean kennels. One week into the spring semester, those spaces are filled with scared, wide-eyed cats and dogs, recent arrivals from local Kansas City animal shelters.
For the next several months, these cats and dogs will become responsibilities, lab partners, companions, and best friends to the 30 students enrolled in the veterinary technology program at MCC-Maple Woods. They will have their teeth cleaned, they will be micro-chipped, and will all be spayed or neutered. Paws will be bandaged, baths will be frequent, and x-rays will be given.
Natalie Short, a lab specialist for the past several years, wastes no time in getting to know them – throughout the course of the semester, she will be their personal rehoming advocate, sending emails, snapping photos, making sure every person at MCC-Maple Woods and beyond knows their personalities and faces.
“I love working with the animals – it’s so special seeing them blossom from these shy, thin, scared shelter animals to loving pets that are so healthy and happy.”
Animal adoption through the program is free, and within a few weeks, Short will begin the usual routine of trying to find homes for her furry friends before the end of the semester. The job comes with challenges – awareness of the adoption program, for starters.
“We don’t advertise our program publicly, we operate on word of mouth by students and our previous adopters,” Short said. “I think that’s a huge compliment to us that they’re happy enough to be repeat adopters and that they recommend us.”
Another challenge is the way the program itself works. Since the animals must remain in the care of the faculty and students for the entire semester, adopters can’t just go and choose an animal to bring home right away.
The challenges, though, are worth it to Short, who enjoys watching both the animals and students blossom throughout the course of the semester.
“I really enjoy watching them learn,” she said. “I love watching them have moments where the light bulb just goes on, and they are able to put critical pieces on a puzzle together and truly comprehend the concepts.”