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Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech and Humane Rescue Alliance Embark on Strategic Partnership to Benefit Veterinary Students and Shelter Animals

The Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech (VMCVM) will launch a strategic partnership to provide expanded education for veterinary students and an increased capacity for quality veterinary services to the Washington, DC region. The agreement will establish an innovative model in veterinary medicine, education, and animal welfare. HRA and VMCVM signed a Memorandum of Understanding on March 16th at HRA’s Medical Center.

“We are thrilled to launch this partnership, which will be transformational for the animals and people of our region and beyond,” said HRA President and CEO Lisa LaFontaine. “Virtually all of the 10,000+ animals we house in a given year need medical care of some kind. Through this affiliation, we will have access to a pool of fourth year veterinary students who can lend their hands, heads, and hearts to our mission – and hopefully, carry their experience with us into their professional careers.”

From left to right: Jennifer Hodgson, VMCVM Associate Dean for Professional Programs; Gregory Daniel, VMCVM Interim Dean; Lisa LaFontaine, HRA President and CEO; Dr. Josh Woolsey, HRA Chief Medial Officer
(Pictured above from left to right: Jennifer Hodgson, VMCVM Associate Dean for Professional Programs; Gregory Daniel, VMCVM Interim Dean; Lisa LaFontaine, HRA President and CEO; Dr. Josh Woolsey, HRA Chief Medical Officer)

The overall impact of the partnership will include a significant improvement in healthcare delivery to HRA animals, enhanced practical experience for students, and the establishment of an innovative model of public and private collaboration for veterinary medicine, education, and animal welfare.

"This partnership will enhance learning opportunities for our students and provide them with valuable experiences in clinical practice," said Gregory Daniel, Interim Dean of VMCVM. "We will have a faculty member on site who will partner with HRA’s veterinarians and staff to provide instruction for our students and excellent care for the patients and clients. This is a win-win situation that benefits the health and wellbeing of the animals and residents in the Washington, DC area. We are pleased to welcome HRA to our growing network of clinical service and research collaborators in the national capital region."

Key benefits of the partnership include:

  1. Expanded experiential clinical education to VMCVM students, taking advantage of HRA’s large and diverse caseload to further their education in general surgical, medical and emergency care, and the unique aspects of shelter medicine.
     
  2. Increased capacity for HRA to provide quality veterinary services to homeless animals and to offer high quality, high volume care to low-income households, thereby fostering responsible pet ownership and addressing pet homelessness.
     
  3. Providing an opportunity for VMCVM to establish a major regional teaching facility in Washington, DC and to serve as a focal point for animal welfare and veterinary medicine education in the national capital region.

The agreement establishes a shelter and homeless companion animal medicine program to provide educational opportunities for the students while also enhancing HRA's clinical programs. The agreement also provides a high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter and primary care service to further enhance the ability for the community at-large to provide responsible pet ownership and better manage population. In addition to serving the medical needs of shelter animals, HRA’s Medical Center is the only local veterinary facility that offers discounted, full-service care to income-qualified residents of the region.

HRA and VMCVM expect the program to begin May 7.