When one thinks of a typical family outing, a trip to the veterinarian is an unlikely suggestion. But thanks to the recently constructed Vida building on the CSU Spur campus, this is no longer the case. Animal surgeries are a regular occurrence at the on-site veterinary hospital, where only a glass wall separates the doctors from an audience of parents and children.
“I appreciate transparency in all things,” said Vivian Odeja, a CSU veterinarian student. “It’s nice to also have it in medicine, where we are able to show a foreign object we just pulled from a dog’s intestine so people can see and learn.”
Since its opening in 2022, the CSU Spur Veterinary Hospital has bolstered the impact of the Dumb Friends League shelter in the Denver area by treating 6000 additional pets for sickness or injury. Odeja was an intern there for one short week but developed a quick admiration for how it continues to hack the animal healthcare system.
“In general, I think there is becoming more of a disconnect between our career and the clients because animal care continues to be really expensive,” Odeja said. “But it’s gratifying to know that here we can help people and meet them where they are at.”
Specifically, while the animal hospital is a partnership with the Dumb Friends League, it is primarily donor-subsidized, allowing for more accessible and affordable healthcare for local pet owners, while also providing opportunities for student interns like Odeja.
“It’s a really cool learning opportunity,” Odeja said. “My favorite aspect of Spur has been working with this community and being able to establish trust with pet owners.”
During surgery, the doctors interact with the onlookers by answering questions, and having sedated animals wave to any concerned kids. Nearby, there is a table dedicated to making “get well cards” for the pets and their owners, while rooms filled with plush animals and vet equipment encourage children to pretend and explore on their own.
“It’s a flexible space that encourages learning in a lot of different ways,” said Mo Walsh, a member of the Education Team at CSU Spur. “We can offer exposure to the various careers that involve animals, while there are self-guided opportunities for all sorts of students.”
Beyond the animal hospital, the Vida building is complete with interactive exhibits and the Temple Grandin Equine Center, which provides rehabilitation for horses that ranges from ultrasound therapy to acupuncture.
“I think that the involvement here has helped bridge the urban-rural gap,” said Jenia Hooper, a 4-H Youth Development Specialist with CSU. “I grew up in the city, so helping these kids see what lies beyond it and how it affects them is great.”
The CSU Spur campus is located near the National Western Center and is open Monday through Friday, and every second Saturday of the month. The campus prides itself on being a free experience and ensures that there is something for everyone in the Vida, Terra and Hydro buildings.
“If anything, it makes people aware of the important ways we are connected,” Walsh said.
For more information on what CSU Spur offers or how you can get involved, visit their website.