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Published July 09, 2012, 07:18 PM

Lake Region Pets Get Free Care From Traveling Vets

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region pets can get free care from students across the nation. Vets and veterinary students have traveled from as far away as South Carolina and British Columbia to offer the care in Fort Totten.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region pets can get free care from students across the nation. Vets and veterinary students have traveled from as far away as South Carolina and British Columbia to offer the care in Fort Totten.

These veterinary students have to pay their way to North Dakota, work 12-hour days and get no payment for their work. But they say it's worth it.

Everyone at the Fort Totten Rec Center is wearing name tags on the front and back. It's out of necessity. The group of more than 40 just met yesterday.

"It's busy and there's a lot to learn. It's a little bit overwhelming, but everyone's super helpful," student Katie Nicol said.

Nicol traveled all the way from British Columbia to be in Fort Totten this week. Monday was the first time this first-year veterinary student got to apply her skills in the real world.

"I have actually never cut into a live animal before. The first year we just worked on cadavers and worked with live animals but never in a surgical setting. So yeah, it's cutting into real tissue," Nicol said.

She's here this week with the Rural Animal Veterinary Service, which travels to reservations in the western U.S. offering free animal health care. Veterinary professionals are also along for the ride to offer guidance.

"It's very refreshing seeing the students that are excelling and caring and trying to do something special, plus they're trying to sharpen their skills," vet Bob McKee said.

They're offering free spaying and neutering, along with vaccinations and anything else they can do to help.

"This is a very, very helpful service for those who either don't have time to bring their dog to the vet or those who can't afford it," pet owner Elizabeth Hanson said.

All of their equipment is easily portable and they're sleeping on the floor in a corner of the rec center. But even with the hardship, the rewards are enough to keep students like Mel Beyer coming back for a second and third time.

"I just love helping animals, and just the sense of community within our group of people that come out here, and just being a part of the community," student Mel Beyer said.

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