Students pursuing associate or bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology at California University of Pennsylvania are settling into their new lab space in Eberly Hall.

The science and technology building has undergone renovations to accommodate students in the program.

“It mimics a working hospital, with all the equipment and rooms, and adds an environment with animals on campus for students to learn animal husbandry,” said Dr. Nancy Pugh, a veterinarian and director of Cal U’s vet tech program.

The coronavirus pandemic delayed completion of the lab space, originally set to be ready in 2020.

Increases in pet ownership, a growing demand for service and working animals, and expansion of veterinary specialties are fueling the need for skilled technicians to work in veterinary clinics and hospitals, large-animal practices, wildlife rehabilitation centers, boarding kennels, government and industry labs, humane societies and more.

The state-of-the-art space at Cal U features a radiology room; surgical suite; pharmacy; isolation and recovery rooms; dog, cat and rabbit housing; dog yard and three lab rooms.

A lounge area in the center of the first-floor suite is for student collaborations. Pugh, who was a consultant during the design phase of the lab, was especially delighted by the state-of-the-art radiographic equipment, animal housing and the dog yard.

For now, the Eberly Hall lab is home to rabbits and rats. Dogs and cats have visited for certain procedures but won’t be housed on campus until Fall 2021.

“I love the program,” said Haliegh Lee, who is pursuing an associate degree. “It’s so good to be in the lab on campus, where you can learn and practice in a controlled environment.

“We’ve been able to learn a lot about surgical instruments, how to do a surgical pack wrap, autoclaves. It’s all very exciting.”

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