The UQ VETS Clinical Studies Centre (CSC) is home to a very special group of teachers – a colony of teaching dogs and cats who are helping train the next generation of veterinary professionals.
Most of the dogs and cats who become teaching animals are transferred to the UQ VETS CSC from pounds across South East Queensland, and it’s largely because of gifts and donations received from the UQ community, that the team can care for and train this special team group of teaching professionals.
Donna Marchiori, a UQ Alumni and Animal Behaviour Technician at the UQ VETS CSC says teaching animals are used, amongst other things, to train students in animal handling and behaviour.
One of these skills is learning how to monitor and respond to an animal’s demeanour and emotional wellbeing during clinical examinations and interactions.
“Animals that are overwhelmed have compromised welfare, so teaching dogs are used to train veterinary students in various handling or positive reinforcement behavioural techniques to reduce discomfort or stress during examinations and where possible, change the dog’s emotional state to one that is more relaxed,” she said.
However, it takes a village to provide everyday essentials for the teaching animals and rescues who call the UQ VETS CSC home.
“Providing food, bedding and toys for up to 20 dogs and 20 cats is challenging so the donations of towels, blankets, sheets, toys, cardboard boxes and clean milk bottles we receive from UQ staff, students and alumni are wonderful,” Donna said.
Donna says that items such as bedding and towels are needed in the animals' housing but are also essential for practical classes with Veterinary Science and Veterinary Technology students.
“In just one class we use 20 towels to teach 20 students how to towel-wrap model cats and learn safe handling skills before they work with our teaching cats,” she said.
"Our teaching dogs also need bedding so they can lie down in comfort during class when they are not needed for interactions."
“The continued generosity from the UQ community means we are able to provide our teaching animals with a healthy, comfortable environment where they thrive so they can continue to enhance the student learning experience."
Thank you for helping retired teaching animals find their forever home
UQ teaching cat Crackle
UQ teaching cat Crackle
Community support is vital in helping to find forever homes teaching animals such as Hopper.
“Every day we are so thankful to the people who choose to adopt from our Pets for Life Adoption Program. Seeing a dog or cat go home with their new family is incredibly rewarding and is always a happy day for us,” Donna said.
“Each time we adopt out an animal, that animal not only finds its new family and retires from teaching, but this allows another rescue animal to move into our colony and eventually it too, can find its forever home.
“Thank you to everyone who shares our Facebook posts about adoption animals, and help us to connect with the families who are the right fit for the dogs and cats in our care.”
Teaching animals like Arthur are grateful for your support
You can help Donna and the UQ VETS Clinical Studies Centre team continue to care for and train teaching animals like Emerald and Sarina by giving to the School of Veterinary Science
Items such as towels, blankets, sheets, pet toys, clean cereal boxes, cardboard egg cartons or clean milk bottles can also be donated and taken directly to the UQ VETS Clinical Studies Centre at UQ’s Gatton campus.
Your generosity helps our teaching animals continue to train the next generation of veterinary professionals.