K-State Shelter Medicine Mobile Surgery Unit performs 25,000th procedure

Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 5:01 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas State University’s Shelter Medicine Mobile Surgery Unit has performed its 25,000th procedure in Wichita.

Kansas State University says the numbers keep adding up while veterinary students continue to gain valuable surgical experience with its Shelter Medicine Mobile Surgery Unit.

K-State said in October, the program recorded its 25,000th spay/neuter procedure on a patient named “Cat No. 3″ from Willow Colony. It said fourth-year veterinary medicine student Gemma Isermann, of Rossville, performed the surgery while the unit was on location at Friends of Felines TNR, in Wichita.

According to K-State, over five years since first hitting the road on its maiden trip in May of 2015, the Mobile Surgery Unit has been used to help dozens of animal shelters and community organizations save on veterinary care costs and has drawn attention to the plight of homeless animals.

K-State said the shelter medicine team is composed of clinical sciences faculty members Brad Crauer and Cody Dressler, accompanied on each trip by three fourth-year veterinary students and a veterinary nurse, Kelsey Decker, who join forces to spay and neuter unowned pets at an area shelter. It said students spend two weeks on the mobile unit rotation, providing surgery and veterinary care at no cost to participating shelters.

According to the university, the Mobile Surgery Unit has spent around 1,450 days and over 190,000 miles on the road over the last five years to reach the 25,000 surgery mark. It said for each trip, students packed and loaded daily supplies in the 32-foot trailer, sporting the university’s powercat logo and wordmark, plus the slogan “Future Vets Helping Future Pets.” It said the students use the travel time to reach participating shelters for classes and lectures to improve their knowledge of shelter medicine, procedures and unique aspects of working with unowned animals.

K-State said when the unit arrives on site, the students perform surgeries under the guidance of Crauer, Dressler and Decker, who is a licensed veterinary nurse. It said they also tour facilities and have consultations with shelter managers before returning, just to do it all again the next day.

According to K-State, the Mobile Surgery Unit has regularly visited 26 animal welfare organizations within a two-hour radius of Manhattan over the past five years. It said the experience exposes the students to each shelters’ unique processes and challenges. It said the shelters are in Clay Center, Emporia, Junction City, Lawrence, Louisburg, Manhattan, Ottawa, Salina and Topeka. It said the unit also travels to a shelter in Beatrice, Neb.

“By the end of the rotation, we hope the students have gained a greater knowledge and appreciation for shelter medicine and use that to make a difference in the communities they become a part of after graduation,” Crauer said.

K-State said students are not the only beneficiaries. It said veterinary care, especially spays and neuters, make up a large portion of a shelter’s operating expense. It said since the students perform surgery at no cost, shelters save around $50-$175 per animal, which is a significant saving when considering the number of animals the shelter serves. It said shelters also have the advantage of regular professional consultations from Crauer and the team.

K-State said the Shelter Medicine Mobile Surgery Unit is supported by private gifts and a grant from PetSmart Charities.

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