HCN News & Notes

New Southbridge Veterinary Hospital to Offer Educational Program

SOUTHBRIDGE­­ — Second Chance Animal Services has announced a joint venture with Bay Path Vocational Technical High School, establishing a veterinary program at a new Community Veterinary Hospital in Southbridge. The full-service hospital, expected to open in the summer of 2021, will serve clients year-round and serve as a teaching hospital for students interested in pursuing a career in the veterinary field.

Upon approval by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, students are expected to enter the program in the fall of 2020. They will begin with classroom training at the high school while Second Chance starts work on the new hospital building. Bay Path students enrolled in construction-related programs will help with the construction.

CEO Sheryl Blancato said the new teaching hospital is a natural extension for the animal-welfare organization. “We are always looking for new ways to help pets in need. We began as a shelter for homeless pets but realized we could help pets more through our hospitals and clinic programs, keeping them out of the shelter in the first place.”

Access to medical care is one of the most often cited reason people surrender their pets. Second Chance vet hospitals provide that access to all. For qualified households, medical care is available at a subsidized rate. Clients who don’t qualify know the cost of caring for their pets is also helping pets in need.

Blancato called the hospital Second Chance’s largest project to date, with a projected cost of $1 million, and added that $600,000 has already been received from two donors.

Nationwide, she noted, veterinary hospitals are seeing a shortage of qualified veterinarians to fill their staff. She hopes this new endeavor will help attract more students to the field.