Thousands attend NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine open house

Thousands of animal lovers, aspiring veterinarians and the just plain curious on Saturday got a look inside the world of one of the nation’s top veterinary schools.

Animals of all sizes were on display throughout the annual open house for the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine, an event which traditionally attracts 8,000 to 10,000 people. Visitors also got an up-close look at emergency veterinary medicine at the state-of-the-art Randall B. Terry, Jr. Companion Animal Veterinary Medical Center.

“The citizens of North Caroline helped pay for this,” said Dr. Barrett Slenning, an associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We want to show them what we’re doing with the taxpayers’ dollars.”

Slenning’s contribution on Saturday was to show to the public a fistulated steer, an animal which has a hole cut into his stomach connecting it to the outside. Veterinarians can open the hole to reach inside the stomach to see how the steer is digesting his food.

Slenning said things such as the fistulated steer are popular attractions, in part because so few people are around farm animals now.

Karen Bledsoe of Cary brought her three young daughters to the exhibit because she said you don’t often get to see the inside of an animal’s stomach.

“It’s so fascinating,” she said. “We love animals, and we love to see them.”

The theme of this year’s open house, which coincided with World Veterinary Day, is the “One Health” concept in which the health of human, animals and the environment are tied together

Slenning, who is also leader of the college’s animal bio-security risk management group, said that with two-thirds to three-quarters of emerging diseases coming from animals, the health connection between humans and animals can’t be ignored. He said that protecting the animal population can in turn protect the human population

Slenning’s colleagues shared lessons with visitors such as how medicine developed to help dogs can potentially be adapted to help humans and how preserving something as small as endangered freshwater mussels can improve water quality.

“People don’t realize how important these little critters are,” said Dr. Jay Levine, professor of epidemiology and public health at the college.

Earning a spot to become a student of one of the professors won’t be easy as the college was ranked third-best veterinary medicine school in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Admissions officers gave advice to potential students such as Veronica Haynes, 13, of Durham. She was told that she’d need to take a lot of science courses in high school.

In the meantime, Veronica got a potential look at her future as she watched surgeries of dogs being spayed and neutered.

“It’s pretty cool seeing different animals and helping them,” she said.

But seeing what operations are like Saturday showed Marleigh Purgar-McDonald, 10, of Durham, that surgery isn’t in her future. But she still wants to become a veterinarian.

“I’ve known for a long time that I want to save animals,” she said.

For a more bloodless and pain-free surgery on Saturday, other open house attendees made it to the Teddy Bear clinic for free sewing up of beloved companions.

“He’s better now,” said Lisa Kranec, 6, of Apex, as she got her appropriately named friend “Teddy” back.