There’s no shortage of veterinarians for small animals like cats and dogs. But there is a shortage of large animal veterinarians.
There’s also a shortage of vets who study diseases that could infect humans, such as mad cow or West Nile virus. Some vet schools hold open houses to teach the public about their profession, and to encourage kids’ interest in the field. The GLRC’s Melissa Ingells reports:
There’s no shortage of veterinarians for small animals like cats and
dogs. But there is a shortage of large animal veterinarians. There’s
also a shortage of vets who study diseases that could infect humans,
such as mad cow or West Nile virus. Some vet schools hold open houses
to teach the public about their profession, and to encourage kids’
interest in the field. The GLRC’s Melissa Ingells reports:
It seems like too much fun to be science education. Kids are getting
a chance to milk cows, pet ferrets, and listen to the heartbeats of
sheep. This event is a way for vet students to share their love of
veterinary medicine. Kids and parents crowd around the exhibits at
the Michigan State University Vet-A-Visit to see the critters. For
one of the animal stars, the crowds were just a little too much.
“My name is Sarah, and this is a Merlin falcon that is fairly used to
people being around and they’re used for education so crowds don’t
bother them for short periods of time, but they take breaks every now
and then. It gets a little agitated sometimes – it’s one of the more
Mostly, though, the animal participants show considerable patience
with being on display. Especially the cow, who is being milked by
lots of inexperienced hands.
Sam is a grade schooler, and he’s serious about learning how to do it
right. A vet student shows him how.
“I’ll show you. So you’re going to…make a…have your hand like
that…make a fist…squeeze…oh, good job! There you go! Yay! Whoa! Did
you see it come out? Yeah! Good job! Cool!”
While getting handled by amateur milkers all day might seem a little
intrusive, it’s not nearly as personal as people sticking their hands
into your stomach. Another nearby cow has a porthole in her ribcage.
Kids are actually putting their hands inside to feel the digestive
process. That’s what Erica just did, after putting on a very long
“What I just did, I put my hand in the um, cow’s like stomach and
everything and I felt hay and everything. It’s all slimy and
everything, it’s all warm too. It’s like all broken down. It’s kind
of funny and everything…and gross.”
While many of the Vet-a-Visit exhibits are live animals, there are
plenty of skulls and bones. One vet student is showing something that
most kids have never seen—a preserved stillborn lamb, cut down the
center to show the insides.
“My name is Daniella. So, this is our lamb here, and he’s been
preserved with silicone so that we can teach students and future
students from him, and that way they can see the actual anatomy
inside. So they can see the lungs, and they can see the stomach and
his intestines. Some of the kids are kind of grossed out, but most of
them are really interested and you can see their love of medicine just
growing, and it’s really cool to see their eyes light up and they come
over and they want to touch him and it’s a lot of fun.”
Judging from the laughter and carnival atmosphere, apparently kids are
having fun everywhere,. The vet students also seem to be having fun,
like the goat-keeper at the petting zoo.
“I’m Molly and I’m a first year vet student at Michigan State, and
this is a little Alpine goat. He’s a male, he’s about a year old, and
he’s been eating people’s sleeves all day long. It definitely reminds
you why you’re doing all this when you’re sitting in class all day
long, so it’s nice.”
Some of the kids are just here for the fun of it, and it’s hard to say
how many might actually end up as veterinarians. Some are apparently on the
right track, as we found out from one little girl, Grace, after she
visited some household pets.
“The cats… the little cats and the big cats and the doggies.”
“What were they doing?”
“The were um… they loved me.”
“You think you might want to be a vet someday?”
“I am. I listened to the heartbeat. I just listened in my ears.”
Of course, it might be a few years before Grace is licensed… but who
For the GLRC, I’m Melissa Ingells.
(sound of bleating sheep)