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Media Minute – Animal Care

Campus Activities Career Education Media Minute Animal Care

A group of students and adults stand in a circle holding overlapping braided rope dog toys.

Do the words Hocus, Pocus, and Boo make you think of Halloween?  Do Basil and Oregano make you hungry for pizza? These are actually some of the names of guinea pigs and bunnies in the animal care classroom on the TSBVI campus. Service to animals is the focus for this Media Minute post.

TSBVI students and staff have demonstrated many years of commitment to animals. In 2011 TSBVI was awarded a Work Training Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to provide students with job training and work experience. An animal care classroom was established as a work site on campus and students in Comprehensive Programs Career Education courses can rotate through to determine if they would like to pursue further work in the area. Students in Summer Programs also work in animal care in Secondary Enrichment classes, Working and Living in the Community (WALIC), and Summer Work Experience in Austin Texas (SWEAT).  Students learn skills and knowledge related to caring for small animals. The training includes grooming, bathing, brushing, cleaning up after the animals, feeding and socializing them as well as laundering their bedding. Students have even made edible “poop” so they can practice scooping it using poop bags! These skills can lead to work and volunteer experiences in local grooming businesses, veterinary clinics, animal shelters, kennels, or pet stores.

The Austin Humane Society (AHS) is a work site that partners with TSBVI to provide Community Based Vocational Education. We have a relationship with AHS that spans over 20 years and in 2018 we were awarded the AHS Lee B. Walker Guardian Award. The award is given annually to an individual, organization, or business that “has gone above and beyond to positively impact the lives of animals.” Rebecca Royer and Tad Doezema received the award at the 14th Annual Rags to Wags Gala, “Unleashing Love,” on behalf of TSBVI.

Once students go through the AHS orientation they serve as volunteers over the course of a semester and can apply the skills they learned in their on-campus Animal Care course. At AHS, the students help prepare the animals for adoption. They assist in taking dogs to the dog runs and field for short walks to provide an opportunity to relieve themselves, exercising and socializing the dogs, brushing, petting and interacting with them, providing them with time outside of their kennel, and picking up any feces deposited inside or outside shelter. Students in the SWEAT program have also supported the marketing director in advertising animals for adoption on their website. An EXIT student in 2018 wrote the following impact statement about her experiences as a volunteer at AHS, “I’ve changed since I started volunteering at AHS. I’m more responsible and independent now. Volunteering is a privilege and I have to take care of my school and dorm chores before I can come to AHS. I learned to ride Metro Access to get here by myself. I didn’t even know what Metro Access was, now I use it all the time.”

During residential hours, students in the Venture Crew do service projects such as constructing do-it-yourself toys and making fleece blankets to donate to the Austin Humane Society. Students visit AHS to interact with the animals and deliver their finished projects.

Students during the day and evenings regularly go on field trips to visit local animal welfare organizations such as Pure Luck Farm & DairyCentral Texas Pig Rescue, Dog Alliance Training Center, Austin Farm Sanctuary, and Safe in Austin, a local animal rescue ranch.

Such important service to animals through the years impacts both the lives of the students at TSBVI, the community, and the animals they collectively assist. Go Wildcats!