Colby CC students assist with Spay Day

Spay Day offered more than an opportunity to encourage people to spay and neuter their animals. It also was a chance for a group of college students to get some hands-on experience.

For many years, Colby Community College vet tech students have been assisting in spay and neuter procedures at the El Dorado Animal Clinic on World Spay Day. This year five students joined the staff at the clinic for the day.

Students assisted in prepping the animals for surgery, as well as offering assistance to the surgeon during the procedures. 

“It’s amazing being able to come down and actually get clinic experience instead of just being in the classroom,” said Colby student Melissa Franks.

Skylar Bowers agreed, adding, “It’s real-world practice.”

She said one learning experience for them was working as a team with new people in a place with which they were unfamiliar.

One favorite part for Michelle Cottenmyre was getting to see the laser used.

“That was cool,” she said.

She also said it was a good compliment to what they had been learning in the classroom.

It is not just the students who enjoy the day. The staff at the clinic do as well.

“I know one of the things Doctor (Davy Harkins) really likes about having the student here is they are so eager to learn and he loves to teach, so it’s a perfect combination,” said Jaime Turner, El Dorado Animal Clinic office manager.

The experience also went beyond the Spay Day procedures.

“We’re fortunate enough since we are a mixed animal practice sometimes there are some things they get to see in here they wouldn’t normally get to see if they went to another practice,” Turner said.

She said they got to see some large animal cases that were mundane to the clinic, but the students were really excited about them.

As part of Spay Day, the El Dorado Animal Clinic offered reduced prices, making for a busy day for everyone involved.

In addition, all of the staff donate their time. In all, they conducted 29 surgeries on Tuesday.

In addition to reducing the unwanted animal population, there also are many medical reasons to spay and neuter an animal.

A female dog or cat left unspayed is seven times more likely to have mammary tumors. Mammary tumors that develop in pets are cancerous in more than 50 percent of cases, and metastases (spreading to other organs) occur in more than 75 percent of dogs with malignant mammary tumors. Dogs spayed before their first heat cycle, however, have a risk factor for mammary tumors of 0.5 percent.

Some common questions pet owners may want to address before spaying or neutering their pet are:

Do you recommend any laboratory tests prior to surgery?

Will gas anesthesia be used? (gas anesthesia is superior in safety to injectable-only anesthesia)

Will my pet’s airway be maintained by use of an endotracheal tube?

Who will monitor my pet during anesthesia? What type of training or education do they have to recognize complications?

What other types of monitors will be used?

Will someone sit with my pet in recovery?

Do you autoclave the surgical instruments between patients?

How long will my pet need to stay and why?

What will you do to alleviate pain during and after surgery?

Will I have to bring my pet back in for stitches to be removed?

Julie Clements can be reached at