Ways to Work with Vet Schools
The AKC’s Veterinary Outreach program is designed to share information regarding the AKC and purebred dogs with veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students. A strong relationship between the AKC and the veterinary community is essential to further understanding among veterinary groups and purebred dog fanciers. The program is currently being sponsored by BAYER K9 Advantix, a solution that repels and kills fleas, ticks and mosquitos. BAYER K9 Advantix will also continue its sponsorship of the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program® (CGC)
Particular emphasis has been placed on educating and familiarizing today’s veterinary students with the AKC, the variety of competitive venues, its involvement in canine health research through the AKC Canine Health Foundation, initiatives such as DNA profiling, and the AKC’s message to veterinarians about their role in educating clients about responsible dog ownership.
Here are some ideas and programs that have been implemented by local kennel clubs around the country to foster these relationships.
As an increasing number of kennel clubs are sponsoring health clinics, this presents an outstanding opportunity to involve the veterinary students as staffing volunteers. They can assist in holding dogs, handling paperwork, managing the patient flow, and in some cases even give shots or draw blood. This provides the students with exposure to breeds unfamiliar to them, and begins to familiarize them with the special needs of their future breeder clientele. While many students may be willing to do this as a learning experience, or simply to spend a day with the dogs, you can always encourage participation by offering lunch, or giving a donation back to their local veterinary student club or organization.
Facilities are an area where local clubs can benefit from the veterinary school. Often, the school’s facilities can be made available to the club for meetings, seminars, or classes. Most veterinary schools host open houses. Ask if your kennel club can participate with an information table on club activities and classes offered to the community. In exchange, allow the veterinary school to set up an informational table at your shows or community events.
Joint Sponsorship of Community Events
Whether sponsoring a full fledged health clinic, a microchipping clinic, obedience demonstration, CGC testing, or any event oriented at educating the community regarding responsible dog ownership, contact the school and ask them to be involved.
Student or Associate Memberships
Create a non-voting / non dues-paying student or associate membership and invite the students to become club members. Most vet students are there because they have an innate love and interest in animals. Many of them have never been exposed at all to the world of purebred dogs. Who knows, you may not only gain some working members, but you may create a new lifelong participant in one of the AKC’s many sports.
Student Volunteers at Dog Shows / Classes
Many clubs utilize Boy Scout troops or other civic organizations to help man their shows. Consider using vet student volunteers. For a small donation back to their student clubs, or perhaps even in gratitude for scholarship offerings, they may represent a ready and able workforce. Students can easily be trained to ring steward or assist in many of the other activities involved in putting on a show or trial.
Most dog owners have built a base of dog related books and videos. When the membership of an entire kennel club is inventoried, the collection is liable to be substantial. Create a list. Share your books amongst other members, and make the materials available to the student base for borrowing.
Presentations offer another great opportunity to promote the relationship between the club and the veterinary school and students. They are especially ideal because there is the opportunity for two way learning. Clubs often have a difficult time in putting together programs for their meetings. The student and faculty base provide a great source for presenting canine health related information to the club. Conversely, the kennel club membership is a great source to present information back to the students on the sport of purebred dogs, legislative issues, and responsible dog ownership.
One of the most innovative programs is a local kennel club’s whelp-watch initiative with their local vet school. Remember, many of the students may not come from any type of animal husbandry background and may have never seen a live animal delivery. The whelp watch program matches interested students with kennel club members that have bitches in whelp. When the whelping takes place, the student is on call and invited to come and learn from the experience. While the whelp-watch program is a particularly pertinent example, there are any number of other unique canine health related issues a breeder might deal with that may be of interest to a group of students.
So, if your kennel club is within reasonable distance of a vet school or even a vet tech program, take advantage of it. Make friends, build relationships, tap into a new source of talent, and promote your kennel club, its events, and responsible dog ownership. In doing so, everyone wins—most importantly, the dogs.
For more information on how you or your club can become more involved, or for assistance in contacting your local veterinary school, please visit the AKC’s Veterinary Outreach website at www.akc.org/vetoutreach or contact them directly at (919) 816-3717 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.