“University of Illinois has taught me to question everything, truly fact-check, and decide whether the current solution is the best solution,” says Paul Fedyniak, who’s graduating as a doctor of Veterinary Medicine on May 11, 2018. “I like to think that the college has transformed me into someone who is better than who I was when I started my education.”
Fedyniak’s recent efforts on behalf of working dogs attest to his devotion to finding a better solution. He was inspired by college faculty members Dr. Maureen McMichael and Dr. Ashley Mitek, who have developed educational tools for paramedics to help them care for police K9s in emergency situations. After learning that paramedics didn’t have any canine-specific gear in their ambulances, Fedyniak saw a need and started a program called MEDIK9USA.
MEDIK9USA assembles and donates kits containing reward toys, muzzles, oxygen masks, hair clippers, and other items helpful in K9 medical emergencies. To promote and fund the program, Fedyniak has created a GoFundMe site and a Facebook page. He has also begun selling and auctioning his own original watercolor paintings of pets.
Responding to needs of K9 police units, Fedyniak has developed a second type of kit that addresses trauma situations and includes hair bandaging supplies, a clotting agent, chest seals, and more. In all, he has raised about $2,000 for the kits, and he plans to make MEDIK9USA into a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization after he graduates.
As long as people are willing to donate, I’m willing to keep painting and putting together my kits to donate.
Paul Fedyniak, Class of 2018
“This will allow me to continue to donate kits to services in need. It would also allow me to sell them to police departments, hospitals, fire departments, and so forth, if there aren’t enough donations to supply the kits for free,” says Fedyniak.
Kits will be donated to a Champaign-Urbana ambulance service in early May, and on May 14—just days after Fedyniak graduates—the kits for K9 units will be demonstrated during a training session at the college for about 30 state and local K9 police officers.
“Paul inspires me every day,” says Dr. Mitek. “He recognized that police dogs needed medical kits to keep them safe, and on his own time, in addition to being a very busy senior veterinary student, he has created many medical kits to donate to working dogs.”
“His innovative idea doesn’t just keep working dogs safe, it will save their lives. And it brings comfort to the K9 handlers to know that they are providing the best care to their working dogs. Dr. McMichael and I are so grateful to Paul for his passion and commitment to keeping working dogs safe.”
Fedyniak grew up in a suburb of Chicago in a family of veterinarians. His grandfather and father were both veterinarians, and his brother, Alec, completed an Illinois veterinary degree in 2015.
Paul also earned his undergraduate degree at Illinois, where he majored in integrative biology while participating in the Army ROTC. He considered enlisting in the U.S. Army as a military working dog handler, but instead enrolled in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He says joining the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps is still an option, but for now he plans to move back to the Chicago area after graduation.
And of course, once there, Fedyniak plans to reach out to assist K9 police units in Chicago.
“As long as people are willing to donate, I’m willing to keep painting and putting together my kits to donate,” says Fedyniak.
—Da Yeon Eom