Weatherford College is moving forward with plans for a veterinary technician Associate of Applied Arts degree.
At a recent board of trustees meeting, Mike Endy, vice president of instruction and student services, announced that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has approved the program.
“The veterinary technician program will provide career opportunities for people who want to work in the animal care industry. Graduates will be certified as vet techs, earning a credential that will allow them to seek employment both locally and across the nation,” Endy said.
The program is designed to serve new students as well as those who have already completed veterinary assistant training and who are seeking career advancement opportunities, he said.
WC officials have submitted a revised draft interlocal agreement to the City of Weatherford and hope to have the agreement finalized by the end of the summer. This would create a partnership to share new facilities at the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter (WPCAS).
“By partnering, both the WPCAS and WC benefit,” Weatherford Director of Municipal and Community Services Dustin Deel said. “These types of programs are very expensive and difficult for colleges to offer due to capital requirements, staffing, and liability. However, these are all responsibilities the shelter currently takes on.
“Due to the financial limitations of these programs, building a partnership together to become the first in the state, maybe first in the nation, a partnership between a community college and municipal animal shelter makes sense.”
The program involves 60 credit hours and will typically take two years to complete, with returning vet assistants usually completing in a single year, Endy said.
“The WPCAS benefits drastically by the college’s new veterinarians and veterinarian technicians working and teaching on animals at the shelter. In addition, the 45 to 60 students that will run through the program will essentially be interns gaining experience and learning required skills in all functional areas of the shelter,” Deel said.
Endy said the partnership will benefit the entire region.
“The program will provide training and employment opportunities for people from our region who have an interest in animal care. College involvement with the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter will provide the shelter much-needed assistance with the growing demands placed on the shelter,” Endy said.
Deel said the WPCAS has committed to building a modern medical and surgical center that will be funded through private donations given to the shelter’s Giving Second Chances capital campaign. The campaign is still seeking about $150,000 to start construction on the center, and there is an additional $250,000 needed to construct an outreach center/classroom.
“The shelter’s existing medical center was not built to accommodate the current load of 80-120 surgeries each week, but that is what it has taken to meet the current needs of our community,” Deel said. “Our current medical facility is only a single room and is less than 300 square feet.”
The new facility is expected to be more than 2,000 square feet, provide two surgical rooms, and could allow up to four tables to be in operation at once.
Endy said the vet tech program will likely begin in August 2020.
Applicants for the program will be accepted starting in the spring 2020 semester.