Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Spring's veterinary academy gives students a head start

TARPON SPRINGS — Katie Hargreaves wrapped her arms around the brown boxer as Dr. Bryan McGoldrick examined the huge masses hanging from underneath the dog's stomach. With confidence, Hargreaves, 16, managed to keep the dog still during the examination.

In another part of the room at Tarpon Springs High School on Wednesday, Libby Lyttle-Bryant, 16, monitored a small dog as it recovered from anesthesia after a dental cleaning that she helped perform.

Hargreaves and Lyttle-Bryant are both part of the school's Veterinary Science Academy, which allows students to get hands-on experience and graduate from high school with a veterinary assistant certification.

That certification enables graduates to work in animal hospitals with greater starting pay.

"I like being able to take what I learn from school and putting it into practice," said Hargreaves, who also managed to land a part-time job at Westlake Animal Hospital. "I have an interest in veterinary science, but this allows me to see what I'm getting into and make sure it's what I want to do before spending all that money in college."

Andrew Crawford, 16, agreed.

"What I'm learning now, I would have to pay for, but I'm getting this for free in high school," said Crawford, a junior. "The younger you are learning this stuff, the better you are and it's good to have the certification because it's something I can fall back on if I have to."

Tarpon Springs Veterinary Science Academy opened in 1995 after five years of developing the curriculum, said Debbie Edwards, an instructor and founder of the academy.

Hundreds of students have graduated from the program and there are about 230 enrolled this year, Edwards said. Some have gone on to be veterinarians, vet techs, dog handlers and groomers. Many of the former Tarpon High students are working in various aspects of the veterinary science field throughout the county, Edwards said.

"You can teach theory out of the book, but until you see the real procedure, you get to know first-hand how important the care is for animals and their healthy life," Edwards said. "That's what's so special about the academy. You get a real-life understanding of what it takes to work in the field."

Students come from as far south as Tierra Verde and some come over the county line from Pasco County to attend the academy. It's the only one of its kind in Pinellas County, Edwards said.

Students are allowed no more than five absences a year and must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and do 100 hours of community service volunteering in an animal-related field.

Veterinary courses are taken every year and students are required to take other classes such as honors biology, chemistry and zoology.

In addition to a veterinarian assistant certificate, the academy offers dual enrollment through St. Petersburg College to acquire college credits.

The academy consists of four instructors. There are three classrooms, three labs, a grooming area, day care for animals, an agility course and an area for exercise and obedience training.

Several years ago, a surgical suite with $20,000 in new equipment opened at the academy.

Under the guidance of up to 20 professionals, students witness surgeries and other procedures performed on animals that often come from the Human Society of Pinellas County.

Wednesday, McGoldrick spayed a cat, conducted a dental cleaning on a dog and took samples of several masses on the boxer that students viewed with a microscope.

McGoldrick is one of several local veterinarians who volunteer at the academy. There are several live procedures a month on animals ranging from cats to horses.

"Because of this program, these kids are definitely being provided an advantage," McGoldrick said. "This type of exposure to animals and these type of procedures were not made available to most of us until we got to vet school. This really is a top-notch program."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes or (727) 445-4174.

Fast facts

To learn more

For more information about the Tarpon Springs Veterinary Science Academy, e-mail Debbie Edwards at edwardsd@pcsb.org or call her at (727) 943-4900 ext. 146.

Tarpon Spring's veterinary academy gives students a head start 11/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2009 8:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa moves to put freed slave Fortune Taylor's name back on historic bridge

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — City Hall has agreed to return a long-lost honor to the memory of Fortune Taylor, a freed slave who amassed more than 30 acres near downtown Tampa after the Civil War.

    The Laurel Street Bridge over the Hillsborough River was once known as the Fortune Street Bridge in honor of Madam Fortune Taylor, a former slave and businesswoman who amassed 33 acres on the east bank of the Hillsborough River after the Civil War. The City Council voted Thursday to put Taylor's name on signs posted at the foot of the bridge and seek a historical marker telling her story. SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times (2016)

  2. Bucs' Mike Evans, Bills cornerback Gaines could face off again

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans has gone up against four Pro Bowl cornerbacks in five games, and on Sunday he could be lining up against a corner he has a history with in Buffalo's E.J. Gaines.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a touchdown catch over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28)  Sunday  in Glendale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Tie in Clearwater downtown development board election causes runoff

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The Oct. 10 Downtown Development Board election for three open seats did not result in the historic dynamic it had the potential to create.

  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: The importance of Kwon Alexander's return

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks the importance of Kwon Alexander's return Sunday in Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, pictured during training camp in July at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Top 5 at Noon: Live from Gainesville before Spencer's speech; Why Trump's definition of 'fake news' is wrong

    News

    Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

    Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute and self-described creator of the term "alt-right,"  will speak at the University of Florida today. [Getty]