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K-State Today

April 5, 2021

Shelter medicine community outreach vehicle makes its maiden voyage

Submitted by Piper Brandt

A new vehicle with a special mission has recently returned to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. The Shelter Medicine Community Outreach Vehicle, also called Wellness on Wheels, or WOW, successfully completed its first trip on March 13 after more than two years of fundraising, design and production.

"Access to care is a major issue when it comes to community pet health," said Brad Crauer, director of the college's shelter medicine program. "The WOW vehicle is unique because it allows members of the K-State shelter medicine team to help people and their beloved pets receive basic veterinary care even though they may have limited financial resources, physical limitations to access to care or insufficient knowledge about the importance of veterinary care."

The WOW’s first stop was a wellness clinic at the Metro Lutheran Ministry Mission in Kansas City, Missouri, in partnership with the Community Veterinary Outreach program. Twenty-five patients from 18 different clients were served.

"WOW is currently getting outfitted with all the supplies needed for regular outreach clinics as well as being able to be deployed for disaster response," Crauer said. "In addition to routine exam and vaccine clinics, WOW has surgical, dental and, very soon, will have X-ray capabilities."

Accompanying Crauer on the trip was Brooke Davis, shelter medicine intern; Lara Plass, Community Veterinary Outreach president; Emma Winkley, K-State Doctor of Veterinary Medicine class 2020; and John Teeter, K-State Doctor of Veterinary Medicine class of 1981. Two veterinary students were along for the ride as well to gain hands-on shelter medicine experience: Hayley Barkoviak, fourth year, and Meagan O’Brien, second year.

"Teaching students practical skills in a community outreach model is the foundation of the K-State shelter medicine program and is consistent with our land-grant university mission," Crauer said. "On the WOW, routine client wellness exams will be the foundation. This will give students caseload experience, but with the added value of serving populations with distinct demographic differences from the majority of veterinary students."

Plans include another visit to the Metro Lutheran Ministry in May and a trip to the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska with the Mobile Surgery Unit in April.

"I believe our consistent sustained effort will raise the bar of long-term care for individual pets, their families and their communities," Crauer said.

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