NC State veterinary students, Pamlico Animal Hospital collaborate

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 1, 2023

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In a collaborative effort to address the feral cat population, the NC State University School of Veterinary Medicine partnered with the Humane Society, Pamlico Animal Hospital, Washington High School, and local non-profit Paws and Love to conduct a spay and neuter clinic in Washington, Nov. 28 to 30. Over the course of three days, the dedicated team, supported by local volunteers, employed innovative baiting techniques to safely trap feral cats. On average, 20 feral cats were spayed or neutered each day, contributing to the ongoing effort to manage the local population.

The clinic not only provided crucial hands-on surgical experience for 12 third-year students from the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine but also fostered a unique connection between these aspiring veterinarians and the Washington community. Local lodging, welcome packets courtesy of the Washington Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, and sponsorship from Executive Personnel Group, who provided “Washington Dollars” for dining, ensured a seamless experience for the participating students.

Dr. Jennifer Fulp, a testament to the clinic’s impact on workforce development, shared her journey from participating as a student to becoming a veterinarian at Pamlico Animal Hospital. Originally from Statesville, North Carolina, Fulp relocated to Washington after graduating in 2020, emphasizing the clinic’s pivotal role in boosting her confidence and surgical skills.

“At the time, it was scary because I was not very confident with surgical skills,” said Fulp. “I had a lot of anxiety about it, but it gave me a lot more confidence, and now I really enjoy surgery.”

Facing challenges in finding a job during the pandemic, Fulp reached out to Pamlico Animal Hospital and found them to be hiring despite the circumstances. She encourages aspiring veterinarians to consider participating in spay and neuter clinics, highlighting the invaluable networking opportunities they provide, especially in smaller communities.

“I would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to do a spay and neuter clinic,” shared Fulp. “When you are going to some of these smaller communities, think about talking to the veterinarians there and ask about the types of caseloads they see.”

For the students, the experience went beyond surgical practice. Melissa McBride, a third-year student, expressed the dual satisfaction of contributing to the community and gaining vital experience. The students also had the opportunity to tour Pamlico Animal Hospital, fostering connections with local veterinarians and NC State University graduates.

Shanti Coleman, another third-year student, reflected on the unexpected impact of the clinic on her career trajectory. 

“After yesterday, I am seriously considering doing an externship at Pamlico Animal Hospital,” expressed Coleman. “Washington was not on my radar at all, and I’ve just been blown away by the level of community engagement with this. It’s been really nice to get to know Washington in general.”

The spay and neuter clinic, beyond its primary mission, emerges as a catalyst for workforce development, community engagement, and the cultivation of future veterinary professionals dedicated to making a positive impact in their communities. Residents interested in information about the spay and neuter voucher program should contact the Humane Society of Beaufort County at 252-946-1591.