Like many shelter animals, a 10-year-old terrier named Milo was waiting patiently to be adopted. Luckily for him, that happy day came sooner with the help of a partnership between the Champaign County Humane Society and the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital dentistry service.
Some of Milo’s teeth had been fractured at some point in his life and extractions were necessary to give him a comfortable, healthy mouth. Veterinary students in their clinical year under the guidance of clinicians were able to relieve the discomfort of these teeth by extracting them.
Milo is just one of many animals made healthier—and more adoptable—through a collaboration between the humane society and the dentistry services unit at the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Dr. Amy Somrak and Dr. Katherine Kling, who lead the dentistry service, oversee the program. Dr. Kling said some animals at the Champaign County Humane Society have not had any prior dental care.
“Our goal is to give these animals more comfortable and functional mouths,” said Dr. Kling.
Fourth-year veterinary students examine the shelter animals with dental problems and with Dr. Somrak and Dr. Kling, identify the animals that would benefit most from care.
The veterinary students benefit as much from the program as their patients do.
“There’s nothing like getting hands-on experience with a real-live animal,” said Dr. Somrak. “We can approximate the experience using models, but there is nothing that replaces the practice of taking care of the whole patient.”
Under the guidance of clinicians, students examine the animals, perform the dental procedures and anesthetic care, and provide follow-up care.
“The students fall in love with the animals, so they are excited to hear the good news about their adoptions—like Milo!” said Dr. Kling.
To continue the collaboration between the hospital’s dentistry service and the Champaign County Humane Society, so that more animals can receive free dental care, donations are sought for the Humane Society Dental Program Fund: