The Heights

Updated: May 23, 2016

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Campus goats integral part of veterinary technology program

If you have ever visited the Foothill College campus you may have noticed a group of goats near the Lohman Theatre. It's hard not to. Depending on the time of the day they may be kicking around a ball, climbing their wooden play structure, or eagerly anticipating meal time.

In early December, the Marketing Department received word that one of the goats, Frankie, passed away. News of his death spread quickly via social media and the outpouring of love from both students and community members was astonishing. However, many didn’t realize that Frankie and his friends are in fact members of the college’s Veterinary Technology Department.

The program is one of only seven in California accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) which requires that students take classes in animal husbandry and behavior. When students are admitted into the program, they are required to help care for the goats as part of the animal care series of courses.

“Our students are responsible for feeding and grooming the goats and providing them with environmental enrichment,” says Program Director Lisa Eshman, D.V.M. “They also administer vaccines and perform other preventative care procedures under the supervision of licensed veterinarians.”

Frankie and his friends Lucy and Ethel arrived at Foothill in 2010 and were joined by Ziggy in later. Their home consists of a large outdoor pen and a barn. Goats aren’t typically considered warm and fuzzy animals, but the students consider them their pets.

"Assuming care of the goats really teaches us the basics of veterinary technology. We are not only responsible for their care and grooming, but their health, emotional well-being, and environmental needs," says student Tessa Buchin. "Each goat has a distinctive personality. Frankie was our program ambassador, while Lucy is the troublemaker, Ethel the peacemaker, and Ziggy the playful younger sibling. Taking care of the goats is not only good for them, but therapeutic forus as students. We develop real bonds with them."

In addition to the goats, the department also has a small colony of dogs, cats, and rabbits, which the students also care for. The animals are adopted from a San Jose shelter each year and then live at the college and participate in the training of veterinary technicians. Each newly adopted animal receives routine veterinary care, including a thorough physical examination, treatment of any internal or external parasites, and preventative Heartworm medication. And unlike many shelters, the animals have a fair amount of freedom.  Cats are often seen roaming around the classroom and the dogs are frequently taken on walks around the campus.

At the end of the school year, the animals are placed in caring permanent homes, often times with the very students who cared for them.

After graduating from the program, students are eligible to sit for the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) state-licensing exam. The Foothill program has three-year average pass rate of 96% and all students graduate with jobs.  The greatest demand for veterinary technicians is in a private veterinary practice working along side the veterinarian caring for companion animals, however, the demand for veterinary technicians in other fields is rapidly growing and opportunities exist in the following areas: pharmaceutical sales, military, biomedical research, and livestock production.

Applications for the 2016-17 academic year are due no later then Friday, March 13. Interested students are invited to attend a Program Information Night on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m. in room 8507. For more information, visit the Veterinary Technology Department website.

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The Heights is written, designed, and developed by the Foothill Marketing Department.

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