TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A Tuscaloosa school is welcoming several animals onto its campus this year as it launches a program for students interested in veterinary medicine.
About 25 students are enrolled in the new pre-veterinary science program at the Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy, The Tuscaloosa News reported.
As part of the program, the school has acquired six sheep that will be kept on campus.
The first sheep brought to the school was 5-month-old Betsy, who came from a farm in Jefferson County.
Last week, several people got to know Betsy when she wandered into the school’s conference hall.
Agriscience instructor Carl Hughes had taught a veterinary program at the school that did not involve live animals, and interest in the program grew over the years, The Tuscaloosa newspaper reported.
“From there, we decided to put together a pre-vet program,” he said.
The biggest change is having the sheep as part of the program.
“We wanted to have live specimens to care for and deal with,” he said.
The school “is all about hands-on experience, and we thought that was a good way to get that experience,” he added.
Hughes decided on sheep for this year’s focus because of their docile nature and the way they are fairly easy to handle, compared with other animals.
“Students will explore pets and disease management for animals, as well as explore the different breeds of animals, such as livestock and exotic pets,” he said. “We will begin learn how to check the vital signs for animals and learn about treatment of diseases.”
The school is also working with veterinary instructors from Tuskegee University and Auburn University to help the program, perhaps by coming into class to teach and offer their expertise to students.