The Main Stream

Apr 7, 2014 10:55 AM by Ryan Haarer

UA wants $4.2 million for first public veterinary college

TUCSON- The folks behind the idea at the University of Arizona say there is a huge need for vets in rural Arizona communities.

That's why they want to streamline the education process, in turn saving students thousands of dollars of debt. They need $4.2 million allocated to the college in the state budget which is currently being formed.

Some local veterinarians like Dr. Richard Schorr are opposed to the idea citing a lack of animals to provide proper training.

"You can drive from here to Phoenix, here to Nogales or Douglas, and not see one animal," worries Schorr.

The university says between its own livestock facilities and the many rural farms in need proper training can be done and it's not just rural farms.

"This economy is more than cat and dog veterinarians, it's production animal veterinarians, it's food safety veterinarians, it's public health veterinarians, it's border security veterinarians," said Dr. Shane Burgess, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Science.

The program would allow qualifying high school students to skip their undergrad education and Arizona students would of course receive in state tuition. Students are spending anywhere from $250,000 to $350,000 from high school to vet school graduation.

"The cost we're looking at doing, we can do this program for a lot less than that. Less than half of that price," claims Dr. Burgess.

Between a new private veterinary school in Glendale and the possibility of a vet school at the UA there could be over 200 new vets in the state each year.

"There are too many veterinarians unemployed. It's very easy for me to find a veterinarian to work here," said Schorr.

He says those vets don't want to work in rural communities and what they really need are qualified technicians. But, Dean Burgess says this school would provide more opportunities.

"It gives us an opportunity, space to grow the economy in places we're not growing as fast as we could be and that's in biotechnology and biomedicine."

Representative Ethan Orr has been pushing for the $4.2 million at the state capitol. He says budget negotiations will continue today, Monday, in the legislature.

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