Community, Education, Pets

The Doctor Is In

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Pets have become an extremely significant piece of the standard school curriculum. Whether teachers are beginning to use them to help with peer counseling classes or to further enhance science courses, there is no mistake that our furry and scaly friends have become important teaching tools.

While animals have been cuddled, admired, and learned about in schools for many years, no one has offered a course on how to care for these animals… until now. Dr. Jeffrey Sands is a practicing veterinarian in Parkland and owner of the Parkland Animal Clinic. In the field for more than 35 years, his passion for animals is evident when speaking with him. His goal is to help instill his love of caring for animals to the next generation.

Dr. Sands wanted to help students who share his love for animals and learn what life as a veterinarian is like. He felt that an after-school club would be the best fit. He approached the principal of Westglades Middle School and proposed starting an after-school club for future veterinarians once a week. After the principal accepted the idea of the club, he needed to secure a sponsor. Ms. Hughes was happy to oblige and has been very supportive. The Future Vets Club of Westglades Middle was ready for business.

Dr. Sands did not want this club to be a show and tell. Students would not be bringing in their pets and demonstrating the tricks they do. This club was going to be informative, functional, productive, and fun. Students would be learning the medical side of their pets and discovering how and why animals act and react the way they do. The club would be accessible to all who want to participate and would be an eight to ten-week session.

Students have watched a video of an extraction, learned about parasitology, participated in role-play as a veterinarian explaining a diagnosis, and learned about the anatomy of a dog by examining its skeleton. These lessons have enriched each student and they are all gaining such an incredible compassion for animals and insight into the daily life of a veterinarian.

Dr. Sands is happy to come each week to Westglades and help educate the middle school students, but his hope is to expand his program to reach the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His goal is to reach as many students as possible and help them develop a love for animal care with the ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian.

While most of the education has taken place on campus, Dr. Sands hopes to include field trips in his program. He would like to bring the students to the Wildlife Care Center and have them care for the injured animals. Each hands-on experience will help the students learn more about being a veterinarian more than any book could teach.

Students took the knowledge they gained and constructed projects, which were recently presented at the Pet Adoption Fair at Pine Trails Park. This was a great way for them to showcase what they learned while helping to educate local residents on animal adoption. Dr. Sands and his future veterinarians are spreading the love of animals, one class at a time.

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