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ACC Elgin partners with local shelters

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    These cats are taken care of by students as part of the veterinary technology program at Austin Community College Elgin. Photo by Julianne Hodges
  • Article Image Alt Text
    This dog is taken care of by students as part of the veterinary technology program at Austin Community College Elgin. Photo by Julianne Hodges

After they leave the veterinary technology program at Austin Community College (ACC) in Elgin, students have the chance to start their career in veterinary medicine. A new collaboration between ACC and nearby animal shelters gives the pets they care for a guaranteed equally-bright future.

ACC Elgin recently launched a new partnership with Bastrop County Animal Shelter (BCAS) and Austin-based animal rescue Austin Pets Alive! (APA) to give students a chance to learn, provide treatment for homeless pets and guarantee them a place in a loving home.

BCAS identifies the animals at their facility which would be a good fit for participation in ACC’s veterinary technology program. Students training to become licensed veterinary technicians provide medical care, training and socialization for these animals. Then, at the end of the semester, any pets that are not already adopted are given a foster home or a forever home through APA.

Katera Berent, public relations and events manager for APA, said ACC reached out to APA earlier this year to offer them a chance to help guarantee homes for the pets who leave ACC.

“For us, this is just a drop in the bucket,” Berent said. “We rescue over 10,000 animals a year, so taking in an additional five or six isn’t a major ask for us. We just want to make sure that we’re giving them the chance at life.”

According to Sara Ervin, the coordinator for ACC’s veterinary technology program, the students form a bond with the animals they work with. Now that the animals who aren’t already adopted by the end of the semester go to APA, which is a no-kill organization, the students can be sure that their furry classmates will not be in danger of euthanasia.

“It’s just like if you have any pets yourself; they come here, they feed them every day, they walk them, they’re with them while they get spayed or neutered,” Ervin said. “(If) the students don’t adopt them themselves, (the animals) will then go on to APA and (the students) know that they’re going into a great environment where they’ll get a good forever home.”

Bringing APA into the partnership helps BCAS, as well. BCAS is an open-intake facility but not a no-kill organization, and they don’t have the resources to keep animals for a long amount of time. Additionally, sending the animals to APA instead of back to BCAS at the end of the semester doesn’t negatively impact the population level at BCAS and cost the shelter valuable living space, Bastrop County animal services director Her-mans said.

“Anytime we’re able to send an animal to another location, that opens up space here at the shelter for newly-arriving animals, so that helps with our population,” Hermans said. “Also, we’re able to send animals that might need extra medical issues, like dental work or just a little further examination by a veterinarian.”

Hermans said she is happy BCAS can be a part of ACC’s veterinary technology program because the faculty and students love animals and give their patients lots of care and hands-on attention.

“The community always needs more trained and skilled staff to work at the local veterinary hospitals, so it’s great that we have a local program to teach people how to get into that field,” she said. “As a shelter, we’re pretty limited in the scope and amount of resources that we have here at the shelter itself, so having the ability to work with (ACC) is very beneficial.”