Cats and Students Benefit at 2018 University of Wisconsin World Spay Day


On February 24, 2018, a diverse group of volunteers gathered at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin for the 2018 World Spay Day.  It was sponsored by the HSVMA and run by Madison Cat Project (MCP), an adoption guarantee organization dedicated to working in the community to find homes for all the cats who come through their doors.  They promote the humane care and adoption of all cats, but also specialize in the care of free-roaming cats and targeted trap-neuter-return programs.  Their monthly spay/neuter clinics are one way in which the many MCP volunteers help the community at large, as well as community cats.  The regular team of MCP volunteers were joined by local veterinarians, certified veterinary technicians, twenty-three veterinary students from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, and twenty-three veterinary technician students from Madison College to spay and neuter fifty-nine cats for this World Spay Day event.  “It is always a thrill for me to see so many members of the veterinary profession come together to help cats,” says MCP Spay Day supervisor, Dr. Karen Hershberger.

Offering a monthly high volume spay/neuter clinic is one of the many ways MCP achieves its mission: Saving cats’ lives through community solutions.  In addition to providing low cost veterinary care and sterilization for as many cats as possible, these Spay Days also provide valuable education, both for the public and the many student volunteers.  Members of the community have access to further education opportunities and consulting services through Madison Cat Project.  Veterinary and veterinary technician students have an excellent opportunity both to practice important professional skills, and to learn about care for free-roaming cats and trap-neuter-return programs.  Education of future veterinary professionals about community cat care and management is essential, and it is accomplished through the commitment and enthusiasm of many dedicated volunteers.  Charisma Chadwick, a certified veterinary technician and long time MCP volunteer, says, “It helps all students involved realize the hardship of these cats out in our world due to overpopulation and abandonment.  They need our help.  We are grateful to the people who bring them to us!”  

The Spay Day began early; set up for the event starts around 7:00 am.  A few veterinarians, veterinary students, and veterinary technician students set up the rooms that will be used for the spay day.  Aisha Hill, a veterinary technician student in her last semester of school, prepares the surgery room, checks and sets up the anesthesia machines.  She will also be monitoring patients during the spay surgeries for the day.  The second year of school for veterinary technician students at Madison College provides training on surgical preparation, anesthesia, and pain management. Volunteering at MCP spay days is a wonderful opportunity for the students to practice what they have learned outside of class, give back to the community, and provide important veterinary care for cats.  Aisha has enjoyed her time volunteering as a student at spay days and plans to continue to donate her time as a CVT at Spay Days once she graduates. 

Other areas where student volunteers help include patient intake, drawing up drugs and vaccines, spay and neuter prep, instrument packing, and recovery.  Veterinary students who are at an appropriate level of education and have volunteered at more than three Spay Days may have the opportunity to participate in surgery, under close supervision of experienced veterinarians.  Says Emily Calbaum, a volunteer for MCP and a second-year veterinary student, “I love going to Spay Days because it really gives you a lot of hands-on clinical experience that you don’t get in school.  Besides learning how to neuter, my handling skills have vastly improved and I’ve learned how to diagnose many diseases common to free-roaming cats.  In addition to reaching out to the community to help with overpopulation, one of the best things about Spay Days is how it brings together so many different people.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know people from the veterinary school, from the technical school, veterinarians in the community, and just animal-lovers in general.  It’s always a great feeling when you are able to treat cats with other underlying issues on the spot and you know their lives will be a lot better thanks to everyone’s hard work.”  Emily began volunteering with Madison Cat Project as a pre-vet undergrad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She and many other students make time in their very busy schedules to volunteer at Spay Day events, because helping animals is the reason we all became involved in veterinary medicine. Dr. Susan Krebsbach, founder of MCP and a volunteer for World Spay Day for ten years, commented, “Even though I have been involved with these events for more years than I want to admit, I am continually inspired by the dedication—and enthusiasm—of all of the students involved. Their fervor and spirit never gets old!”


Coming together as a community and volunteering our skills to improve the lives of cats and their people—this is the common thread at the heart of Spay Days, as well as the fulfillment of the HSVMA and Madison Cat project missions, and the Wisconsin Idea.  Former UW President Charles Van Hise helped to solidify the Wisconsin Idea as part of our school’s tradition; it is a philosophy that college education should lead to positive change for the entire community.   He was determined that education should impact lives of more than just current students and shouldn’t be limited to classrooms.  Van Hise once said, “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every family of the state.” As veterinary students at the UW-Madison, we can best utilize our education to have a positive impact on our community and state by volunteering our time to help its animals.  The many student volunteers come to learn, but that isn’t the main reason.  As fourth-year veterinary student Sam Emmerich says, “I’ll help wherever I’m needed most; it’s really all about the cats.”  




Kelly Dulli is a CVT as well as a second-year veterinary student at UW Madison SVM.  She is originally from Racine, WI, but has lived in Madison for fifteen years.  She began volunteering for Madison Cat Project as a veterinary technician student at spay days in 2010, and has continued to volunteer as a CVT and veterinary student.  After graduation, she plans to specialize in shelter medicine.