Lab test

Fransisco Mercado and Autumn Crilley conduct a test in the West-MEC lab.

Nov. 5, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement between Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) and Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC).

The agreement is intended to help students enrolled in Wes-MEC’s Veterinary Services program, while at the same time providing medical and grooming attention to MCACC’s shelter animals.

“This is a win-win collaboration for the residents of Maricopa County, especially for the West Valley,” Supervisor Clint Hickman said. “The students receive hands-on training working with animals, getting experience in a field they have chosen, and where the need is high.”

West-MEC’s program offers training to high school students interested in a career in the field of veterinary services. 

Through the agreement, West-MEC students will aid licensed veterinarians to perform necessary procedures or treatments on the shelter animals, such as dental exams and cleaning, vaccinations and grooming.  All treatments and procedures will be performed humanely in accordance with veterinary standards of practice set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Once procedures have been performed, the animals will return to MCACC’s shelters, unless they are adopted by West-MEC students or faculty.  

Supervisor Marie Lopez-Rogers commended the county for developing the joint agreement.

She said, “By expanding the resources available at our county shelters, this agreement will go far to keep our sheltered animals well cared for, medically healthy and well groomed, all of which will increase the chances for adoption.”

The innovative partnership offers medical attention and diagnostic services that MCACC may not have the resources or staffing to otherwise provide to the animals in its care.  It is hoped that the increased opportunity for health care and grooming will entice potential adopters and help the animals be placed quickly with loving families.  The agreement is scheduled to run through June 30, 2015.

Greg Donovan, West-MEC superintendent, said, “It goes back a couple years. It came through our advisory committee, business and industry partners. There were meetings with several foundations, and animal control, how we would have access for veterinary assistant students.

MCACC is an excellent partner, and would be able to provide animals for teaching and learning environments, and we would have consistent access.”

That access would also give MCACC a set of skilled students that would help them spay, neuter and repair animals, and hopefully, get them ready for adoption. Students would be learning how to assist veterinarians with small animals - dogs, cats and exotics.

Although West-MEC’s northeast campus does not have the environment for large animals, Donovan said, “That is on our radar screen at our southwest campus in Buckeye. We will include a large animal opportunity because of the availability of large animals (in that area).”

Students at the northeast campus will not be left out of the large animal program, however. Donovan said they will have access to the requirement for large animal learning. They will be shuttled to locations that have access.

“It really evolved through some of our private foundation members, a really good partnership,” Donovan said. “It’s an exciting time. We are growing. We’re doing well, and this program and others are available because of the bond that was passed in 2012. We’re opening campuses where we’re offering more programs such as veterinary assistant.”

Editor Carolyn Dryer contributed to this article.