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Students assist Habitat for Humanity with canine census in Macon

Published: 10/31/14 3:04PM
By: bradleyc

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Four Fort Valley State University veterinary technology students, an employee and local teen volunteers pose for a photo after conducting a canine census in the Lynmore Estates neighborhood in Macon.

A recent community service project involving Fort Valley State University's veterinary technology students may help improve living conditions for residents in Macon.

Senior veterinary technology majors, Lindsey Leach, Mercedes Wright, Ty Nichols and junior Taylor Westly, participated in the Lynmore Estates Canine Census in Macon. Students were accompanied by participant Karen Capps, a FVSU registered veterinary technician.

The Lynmore Estates Canine Census was a project developed by the Macon Area Habitat for Humanity office. Students from FVSU and local youth volunteers went door to door for one day on the ten streets that comprise the neighborhood.

They collected information on the dogs in the neighborhood by administering a census to owners, and adding strays to the census. Questions asked help to identify a dog's breed, weight, spay or neuter verification, rabies vaccines and dogs housing conditions. FVSU students also educated residents about animal welfare, such as the proper ways to restrain a dog and providing appropriate housing for dogs.

The goal of the census is to reduce the number of stray dogs by creating a database developed from census data. Information from the database would help to identify stray dogs, place stray dogs outside the neighborhood through the help of local animal rescue groups, return missing dogs to owners and offer free spaying and neutering services to dog owners in the neighborhood.

"Stray dogs are a nuisance. They create problems with littering, vandalism and can be an overall annoyance," said Dr. Sundra Woodford, neighborhood revitalization manager for the Macon Area Habitat for Humanity. Woodford said Habitat for Humanity is focusing on Lynmore because it is a neighborhood in decline with urban blight issues.

Lindsey Leach, a senior veterinary sciences student, said the experience was memorable and she hopes to see change "Administering the survey, adding to the database and educating residents on properly housing and caring for dogs is already improving the community," Leach said.

Mercedes Wright, senior veterinary technology major, said the neighborhood should see improvements and she was appreciative of the hands-on experience. "If possible, it would be good if we could have something like this in Fort Valley to decrease the stray dog population," Wright said.

From the canine census, Habitat for Humanity was able to add 122 dogs information into the database. They were also able to schedule approximately 22 spay and neuter services in the month of October.

Woodford said she is appreciative of the help from FVSU students. She said she reached out to FVSU because the university is known for its College of Agriculture and veterinary technology program. She also said it was a great experience for the local teen volunteers in the neighborhood to work alongside college students and learn about animal welfare.

For more information about the veterinary program and outreach services at FVSU, contact the department at 478-825-6424.