FORT COLLINS-- More than 100 Colorado State University veterinary and pre-veterinary medicine students are willing to get up in the middle of the night--in winter, if need be. It makes sense when they enter a stall full of clean straw in the large-animal section of Colorado State's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A mare is quietly eating hay and a very small, young horse with a large bandage on its right foreleg is suckling its mother.
It's testimony to the dedication of Colorado State's student volunteers that the foal has survived at all. The five-year-old program is largely organized and completely staffed by students.
Some 75 professional veterinary students and 30 pre-vet students supplement Veterinary Teaching Hospital clinical staff dealing with emergencies such as premature birth, inadequate fetal development, infection, exposure or other traumas. Working from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. weeknights and around the clock on weekends and holidays, they provide critical care each year for about 25 foals less than 30 days old.
Ill baby animals may require multiple treatments to help them, including blood transfusions, infusions of plasma with proteins and oxygen therapy from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's veterinary staff, with assistance from the volunteers, said Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz, professor of clinical sciences and a specialist in large-animal veterinary medicine.
In addition, volunteers help by keeping the newborn clean and dry, milking the mother and providing hourly feedings if the baby is too weak to stand and suckle. Monitoring vital signs, turning the baby from side to side as needed and making sure oxygen or intravenous tubes are not dislodged are part of the routine.
This intensive care generates thank-you letters, interactions with
veterinarians and technicians and veterinary experience for those applying to
veterinary school. As Traub-Dargatz points out, "you don't ask to care f
Contact: David Weymiller
Colorado State University