Almost 200 dogs participate in heartworm clinic

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 26, 2013 – The annual Heartworm Prevention Clinic was recently held at the college with 198 student-owned dogs participating. Sponsored by the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), the program fulfills veterinary students’ professional requirement to establish a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Dr. Mark Freeman, assistant professor of community practice, served as a faculty volunteer at the annual SCAVMA Heartworm Clinic.

SCAVMA officer Kathy Samley, a second-year veterinary student, coordinated the appointments. Students created a basic medical record for their dog(s) and chose the appropriate product from a list of available preventatives. SCAVMA officers and volunteers organized and set up the space, retrieved paperwork from medical records, and arranged for a Merial-supplied breakfast for the volunteers.

On the day of the clinic, students provided histories, clinician volunteers performed brief physical exams, and blood was drawn for heartworm testing (snap tests were provided by Novartis). Finally, with a negative heartworm status, students wrote prescriptions for their preventatives and then received clinician approval and signature. Pharmacy supervisor Maureen Perry and pharmacy assistant Brian Hartnett checked prescriptions for accuracy and filled them.

“The SCAVMA Heartworm Clinic is great financial help for students. Heartworm medication can cost upwards of $200 a year,” said Audrey Germane, a third-year veterinary student. “Heartworm disease is becoming more prevalent in this area, especially due to global climate change and the increase of carrier animals in the area.”

Chris Celentano, second-year veterinary student, noted, “The clinic also gave students the opportunity to practice drawing blood on or restraining their own dogs, which was a great hands-on learning experience.”

Students practiced giving physical exams to and drawing blood from their own dogs at the annual SCAVMA Heartworm Clinic.

Heartworm preventatives were provided for the dogs as part of a public health initiative made possible through the continued support of Bayer HealthCare, Elanco Animal Health, Merial Limited, and Novartis Animal Health. Clinicians and staff donated their time and expertise, while Dr. Bess Pierce helped organize and engage others in the volunteer effort. 

Resident, intern, and faculty volunteers included Dr. Samantha Emch, Dr. Heather Honious, Dr. Bryn Hoffman, Dr. Bethany Gibson, Dr. Ann Bettencourt, Dr. Mark Freeman, and Dr. Bess Pierce. Student volunteers included Laura Cincotti, Edward Radue, Betsy Schroeder, Karah Markins, Stacy Higgins, Erin Struble, Audrey Germane, Monica Madera, and Laura Turner.