Smith County Commissioners approve agreement with TJC for veterinary services for animal shelter

Tyler Junior College Veterinary Technician students Sarah Martini, left, Deanna Grimes and Merie Reeves volunteer their time to help with renovation of MuttNation's Mutt Station adoption center, which will be operated by the college. (Courtesy)

Tyler Junior College has entered a partnership with Smith County that will save the county money, while providing clinical hours for veterinary technician students.

The vet tech program, which is based out of TJC's North Campus at The Cannery in Lindale, will handle some veterinary and necropsy (autopsy) services for the county at its animal shelter.

The agreement with Smith County allows students to learn techniques involving preventative care such as heartworm testing, fecal matter testing and limited surgery such as spaying and neutering. The program is led by Dr. Louisa Schmid, who is a veterinarian herself.

"We often time will do preventative care for the Smith County animals, they're brought to us," Schmid said. "The animals are much more adoptable after, so it's a win-win for everyone."

The county also will donate animals that have been euthanized, which will allow students to perform techniques they could not safely learn on live animals.

"One thing I really want to emphasize is that TJC has no input into which animals are euthanized," Schmid said. "This donation just really expands the student's abilities to do a lot of things; place chest tubes, practice suturing and all sorts of techniques. After we are done, the animals are cremated."

Schmid stressed the school has no input on whether or not the county euthanizes animals and are handling the necropsy training with all possible sensitivity.

The vet tech program also has agreements for preventative care with the city of Tyler, several local organizations and with the animal emergency center to help familiarize students with their equipment.

Smith County Animal Control Coordinator Lekisha Stinecipher said the agreement should reduce the amount of times dogs stay at the shelter, due to improving its adoption rates.

Smith County shelter personnel also will benefit from having the college's instructors on hand twice a week as they deliver the animals to the North Campus. The cost of transporting the animals to Lindale would be the only cost to the county, according to Stinecipher.

On Tuesday, the students also were volunteering to help with renovation at Mutt Station, a new pet adoption center sponsored by Miranda Lambert's MuttNation Foundation.

The veterinary program will oversee operation at Mutt Station.

The vet tech program is just entering its second year, and its first semester at the new facilities at TJC North.

They have about two dozen students currently working toward becoming licensed veterinary technicians.

In Other Business:

The commissioners court made appointments to the Andrews Center Board of Trustees and approved its 2017-18 contract with Northeast Texas Public Health District.

The commissioners also received an update on the county's lawsuit against Volkswagen.

The only action taken was a move that will allow the state to access indigent funds from the state's lawsuit against VW.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said the state has requested all counties involved in lawsuits approve an order of injunctive relief so the state can access indigent funds related to its settlement.

Moran said this won't affect the county or its lawsuit as their suit was only aimed toward civil penalties against VW.




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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.