Vet Med lets public get up-close and very personal with animals

Guests look at a great horned owl during the Doodle for Animals auction and banquet in April 2007 at the Round Barn Banquet Ce

Guests look at a great horned owl during the “Doodle for Animals” auction and banquet in April 2007 at the Round Barn Banquet Ce

By Melissa Silverberg

Students will have a chance to view the inner workings of the College of Veterinary Medicine – and the inner workings of a cow – Saturday at the college’s annual open house.

The University’s Veterinary Medicine program is one of only 28 in the nation and the only program in Illinois, said Chris Beuoy, director of communications for the college.

The open house will take place at the Vet-Med campus, 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., in Urbana from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, said Katharine Ho, one of the planners of the event and a third-year veterinary student.

With various booths, exhibits and interactive displays for people to view, the open house will be a chance to learn about and see different animals and parts of the veterinary school, Beuoy said.

“It is important for prospective vets to get to ask questions about careers and admissions,” Beuoy said. “Vets have to learn about all species; even if you just treat dogs and cats, you will learn about snakes and pigs and horses.”

Although the college’s administration assists with planning and a few other parts of the event, the open house is a completely student-run function, Beuoy said. Students are eligible to run the booths and make planning decisions during any or all of their first three years in the college. The planning committee is made up of about 12 students, four each from the first-, second- and third-year vet student classes.

“It really highlights the various areas of veterinary medicine and showcases the profession to the public,” said Jen Asher, third-year veterinary student and one of the open-house planners. “It really gives the public a chance to have fun. There are cool things for the children to do, not just look at.”

One of the most popular exhibits is a fistulated cow, a cow with a hole in its side that allows people to reach in and pull food from a compartment in the cow’s stomach, Asher said. The hole is made by scientists for research purposes and does not hurt the cow, and the display has been entertaining activity in the past, Asher added. People will also be able to milk cows, and children will be able to handle the reptiles, including snakes and turtles.

“This is a really good chance for people to learn about what goes into being a veterinarian,” Beuoy said. “It’s a really family-friendly event.”

The Wildlife Medical Clinic will be showcasing hawks and other large animals for display. There will also be a dog obedience demonstration and a few outside organization booths like the Humane Society and a few animal rescue groups, she said. Additionally, there will be a petting zoo and a ventriloquist.

“It is important for us to show anyone of any age who has any interest in veterinary medicine what we are all about,” said Lauren Markovic, a third-year veterinary student and also a planner of the open house.

“From kids in strollers to kids in college that are thinking about applying, it is usually pretty jam-packed.”

While there is not a firm count of the number of people who attend the event each year, Asher estimated it to be between 6,000 and 8,000 visitors of all ages.

Children will be able to touch, handle or see many different animals, but planners said no outside animals will be allowed into the open house for safety reasons and to prevent the possible spread of any diseases or infections.

“It’s the only day of the year when the public is invited to see behind the scenes at our school and teaching hospital,” Beuoy said.

“It’s a celebration of the human-animal bond and the role that animals play in our lives.”