ROBSTOWN, Texas — Veterinarian shortages could leave 75 million animals without medical care by the year 2030, according to a study from Mars Veterinary Health.
Mars Veterinary Health reported a 6.5 percentincrease in vet appointments for 2021 and said the number of veterinarians is low compared to the demand for pet medical care.
Robstown Early College High School has been proactive by providing programs for students to get them interested in careers in essential industries. In mid-January, it unveiled a new welding lab for students interested in learning about careers in skilled trade jobs.
It also started a program during the 2022-23 school year, which emphasizes agriculture, animal science and management. In a new veterinary lab built inside the school, students are able to receive hands-on training, which could help them with their future careers.
Students are also able to earn a TEA-approved Industry Certification in Veterinary Assisting, which will help them qualify for a job at an animal clinic.
Natalie Sutter is an agriculture teacher at the high school, who helped in providing this opportunity for students. She took over a room used to store items and helped transform it into a fully functional vet lab.
"This place has not been touched in about 10 years, 15 years," she said. "It used to just be a storage. And they were like okay, over the summer, we're going to change it, paint it, get everything we can to get you everything you need."
The school pulled through for its teacher and students and now the vet shop has everything you'd see at an animal clinic; like medical tools, kennels, and grooming supplies.
The vet lab was built using local Career and Technical Education funding and the Carl D. Perkins federal grant.
Tejas Veterinary Clinic partnered with the school to help the students learn.
"It's really helping the kids out a lot," Sutter said. "I really do love these kids and I feel like they're just blossoming every year. And I hope when they graduate and focus on what they want, everything can work out for them."
For high school senior Lorena Paredez, the new courses will help her fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian.
"Around the area I grew up in, around the Robstown and Calallen area, there were a lot of stray animals," she said. "I've always been one of those kids that goes up to them and pets them and a lot of them are always wounded. And a part of me just wanted to grow up and be one of the people to help them."