TTU teams with animal group, local officials to plan PET Care Campus

Posted by Karen Lykins - Monday, January 25 2010
klykins@tntech.edu
Office of Communications & Marketing

thumb_PETCareCampusPicTennessee Tech University will collaborate with local government agencies and animal welfare groups to create a one-of-a-kind PET Care Campus to train university students and the public to address issues of pet overpopulation and responsible pet ownership.

The partnership will link TTU with Friends of Cookeville/Putnam Co. Animals (FCPCA), the Humane Society of Putnam County Spay/Neuter Clinic, the City of Cookeville and Putnam County officials to develop a program to provide university pre-veterinary students hands-on experience while working in and supporting shelter, spay and neuter, and adoption programs to benefit the community.

Founders have coined the program the PET (pet, education, training) Care Campus, an educational and service project that would focus community efforts and academic programs on the caring for abandoned companion animals, primarily cats and dogs, in the community. It would link pre-vet students’ education and hands-on training with the well-being of animals in the Upper Cumberland region.

“It’s a partnership that makes sense,” said Pat Bagley, dean of the TTU College of Agricultural and Human Sciences. “By combining our resources and focusing on the needs of these animals as well as our students, we’ve discovered a great program.”

“The PET Care Campus is a unique collaboration of educational and pet welfare entities that will lead the way to positive change for the abandoned, abused and homeless animals in our community,” said Linda Westin, FCPCA chair.

“The treatment and care of companion animals in the United States continues to be an important issue,” said Westin. “Most communities have some type of animal shelter due to the number of strays and unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. Unfortunately, about 75 percent of all animals brought to the animal shelter are euthanized.”

The project began last year when representatives of the FCPCA, the Cookeville/Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and TTU met to discuss a long-term solution to the need for a new animal shelter for the region. Both the FCPCA and the TTU Foundation, the university’s non-profit fundraising support group, agreed to work together to raise funding to purchase a 9.75-acre lot north of the Hyder Burks pavilion to develop the PET Care Campus.

The university, the City of Cookeville, and Putnam County will collaborate on the project with FCPA and the university foundation purchasing the land. Part of the property will be leased to the city, county and Humane Society for construction of an animal shelter and spay/neuter clinic. TTU, government agencies and animal welfare groups would then cooperate on a number of programs to support a common mission.

As designed, the partnership could be the first of its kind in the nation. Discussions have already attracted the attention of animal support groups.

The 9.75-acre campus will feature
• A new animal shelter.
• A spay/neuter clinic.
• A visitor education center and resource for pet owners, including a dog-training site for hosting pet clinics, classes and shows.
• An off-leash dog park, including a pre-adoption play area.
• A residence for pre-vet students to live, work and study while serving in the shelter and clinic for experiential learning opportunities.
• A place where students can live with animals to socialize and train them to become adoption candidates.
• A TTU learning farm with facilities.

The collaborative venture brings together TTU animal education classes and pre-veterinary program opportunities with animal care facilities like the Cookeville/Putnam County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Putnam County Spay/Neuter clinic, welfare groups like the Friends of Cookeville/Putnam County Animals, and city and county government agencies.

“This is a great concept that will be of mutual benefit to all the parties involved,” said Kim Blaylock, County Executive. “I appreciate all the hard work that the Friends of the Shelter group does for us.”

The campus project is expected to
• Provide TTU students with service learning opportunities and hands-on training for the care of animals as well as facilities for classes, laboratories and short courses.
• Offer the public opportunities for learning and caring for animals.
• Increase pet adoptions as students and volunteers socialize and train animals through a fostering program.
• Promote the spaying and neutering of pets and increase awareness of responsible pet ownership..

“We expect this project will not only help address the problem of our local unwanted pet population, but it will provide an excellent experience for our students that they will not find anywhere else,” Bagley said.

“Studies have shown how programs like this focus on and improve human social interaction as well. It will offer a way for students to become more involved with each other as they work toward common goals and care for these animals. Studies show these types of students become more socially involved in other areas on a college campus, and they don’t become as homesick as other students.”

A website, www.petcarecampus.com, has been created to provide information about the project and participants as it proceeds.