Skip to main content

South Jordan Journal

AAI pet clinics give students pet vaccination experience

May 30, 2022 05:18PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan resident Kimberly Woods was thankful she was able to microchip and vaccinate her 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Nico.

“I just moved here from New York, and I was traveling, so I haven’t been able to get him into the vet,” Woods said as she took advantage of American Academy of Innovation’s mobile pet clinic.

AAI animal science teacher Kathy Nuttall and her students teamed up with Nuzzles Animal Rescue in Park City to have the mobile pet clinic that has traveled from Kamas to Magna.

“We want to offer different communities a low-cost vaccine clinic,” Nuttall said.

Nuttall teaches the animal and veterinary science classes from equine science and animal science to small and companion animal science, and from veterinary assistant to intro to aquaculture.

Most of her students were interacting with both the patrons and their pets. Nuttall said that through the experience they were learning general procedures in working with people and animals, as well as understanding paperwork.

Those who were enrolled in the veterinary assistant course could help hold or give the vaccinations.

“This helps give them more hands-on work with animals. They’re able to interact with animals and we talk about behavior and general handling of the animals. We also talk about the vaccines required with companion animals, so they were able to see first-hand the vaccines we give and how we give them as well as the paperwork that is required,” she said. “They were prepared to answer questions about immunology and vaccines.”

The mobile clinic also gives students a different type of challenge from a normal veterinary clinic.

“We’re outside so we’re dealing with those noises or the wind and that can startle an animal. Some of that can play into animals’ emotions. Then, some people want to hold their own pets, so it gives our students a different hands-on situation,” Nuttall said.

The students also provided patrons with information on how to license their pets with the city.

After the mobile pet clinic, Nuttall and her students discussed in class their experiences.

"The whole purpose is to try and give them hands-on outside experience from what they get in class and provide a service for the community,” she said.

In the past, Nuttall’s students, both at AAI and Mountain Edge in West Jordan, had helped with wellness exams and administered vaccines for animals, many from reservations, that were put up for adoption.

“Some of the students become certified so they can become a veterinary technician and work in the field,” she said.

Others may look to be animal nutrition specialists, animal trainers, zoologists, conservation officers or work in fish and marine ecology or other fields.

“A good percentage further their education to work in the animal field,” Nuttall said. “Our animal science class tends to be one that has more interest in it.”

That class also counts for a science credit.

In the animal science course, students develop knowledge and skills in genetics, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, disease and management. Nuttall also hopes her students can participate in an Ag Day, where they help elementary students learn animal education on the farm.

The other four AAI courses count as career and technical education credits toward graduation. The CTE classes help provide students with skills so they will be prepared for post-secondary options, such as on-the-job training, certification programs and college or technical training.

In the equine science class, students learned handling techniques as well as genetics, anatomy, physiology and nutrition, diseases and management.

The small and companion animal science class explores the relationship between people and their pets, primarily cats, dogs and horses. Students learn about zoology, behavior, training, genetics, animal rescue, health care and more.

The vet assistant course teaches students about the general care of the animals, including their anatomy, physiology, chemistry, animal health and disease, dentistry and laboratory procedures. 

“We’re learning more of the medical aspects of the animals because we can get into more technical details,” she said.

The intro to aquaculture was a new class this past spring. The course covers fish ecology, anatomy and physiology, water quality, aquaponics and the scientific method in the context of raising and breeding fish. 

“Right now, we’re trying to breed beta fish and in the next couple weeks, we’re going to grow some greens to feed other animals like our rabbits,” Nuttall said. “We cover freshwater, but we also cover some saltwater tank material. We are hoping to set up a large saltwater tank in the school lobby for students to manage and take care of.”

Nuttall, who has taught at AAI for eight of her 34 years working in the field, knows not every student will become a veterinarian.

“I tell students that I hope these classes give you knowledge and skills that you can take with you to better take care of your own animals and maybe find a career path you didn’t even know about. I had a group of students help with therapy animals and they saw a lot of what these animals can do as far as emotional support. We want to offer our students the knowledge and experiences outside the classroom so they realize what they’re learning in the classroom can provide services for our community,” she said.

For student Murphy Shumway, who also is a Nuzzles kennel tech, being able to provide the service to about 50 patrons that Saturday at the school was a no-brainer.

“When we vaccinate their pets for $20, we’re helping [protect] them from getting one of these horrific diseases, some of these are definitely contagious,” she said. “It’s an opportunity we can help our communities.”