Pet Talk UI Vet Med open house 2019

Visitors get up close and personal with a horse at the 2018 University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Open House in Urbana. The 2019 event is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.

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Each year, the UI College of Veterinary Medicine opens its doors to the public for an in-depth experience in the world of veterinary medicine. This free event, put on by roughly 400 veterinary students, is perfect for all ages. This year, it runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6.

Come learn

“The purpose of the open house is to engage and educate the public about veterinary medicine,” said Lindsey Summers, a third-year veterinary student and Vet Med Open House organizer. “We want to showcase how veterinary medicine improves the lives of both people and animals in a variety of ways.”

More than 40 exhibits will be set up throughout four buildings on the Vet Med campus, with parking at 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., U. Exhibits focus on aspects of veterinary medicine, from cardiology to parasitology, and many veterinary student clubs display their interests, from business management to shelter medicine. There will be lots of live animals and demonstrations.

“Visitors will be able to milk a cow, watch a horse get shod, touch a snake and see the Illini Service Dogs in action,” Summers said. There will be animals both large and small, from pigs and horses to birds, lizards and fish.

The Wildlife Medical Clinic, a student-run program that provides medical care for ill or injured wildlife, will have a large booth at the open house.

Come meet animals

Rosie Mazaheri, another third-year veterinary student who is an open house organizer, said, “You will get to meet some of the awesome animal ambassadors of the Wildlife Medical Clinic that help educate the public, such as Onslo the blue-tongued skink, Hazel the eastern box turtle and Ruby the red-tailed hawk.”

Sydney Johnson, a second-year veterinary student, worked at the Feline Club booth last year. “We had three cats at our booth for the public to pet,” Johnson says. “We also educated the community about household toxins, such as Easter lilies and over-the-counter medications, and about general care and maintenance of cats.”

The club reviews the dangers of declawing in cats and suggests more humane alternatives.

In addition to two formal presentations about admission to veterinary college, the open house offers a unique opportunity for high school and undergraduate students to ask current veterinary students about their experiences and journey to vet school. It’s a great way to gain valuable advice and insight.

“I loved getting to share my experiences with people who aspire to be veterinarians,” Johnson said.

Come have fun

One of the most interactive exhibits is the kids’ tent, which is being sponsored by Prospect Bank this year.

“The Veterinary Student Outreach Program hosts a Teddy Bear Hospital, where kids get to be veterinarians for the day with their favorite stuffed animals,” Summers said. Children bring a stuffed toy from home to be their “patient.” They get to perform physical exams, scrub into surgery, put on gowns/gloves and assist in suturing and bandaging their animals.

Mazaheri agrees: “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the excitement in a child’s eyes as a veterinary student helps them gown and glove for ‘surgery’ on a Teddy bear.”

The kids’ tent also features face painting and crafts.

Another popular booth is the fistulated cow. “Whether you’re a child or an adult, learning about why we place fistulas in cows and getting the opportunity to interact with a fistulated cow is a great experience,” Mazaheri said.

“We have plenty of activities for small children but are always excited to talk to anyone about the amazing services we offer here at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital,” she added.

Come support

The biggest way to help support Vet Med Open House is by attending and sharing your experience with others.

“While on the Vet Med campus the day of the open house, there will be a Snapchat filter,” Mazaheri says. “Use it to promote the event and get more friends to come.”

A veterinary student club, the Production Medicine Club, operates a food booth that offers hamburgers, hot dogs, chili and more. The proceeds allow the club to provide extracurricular learning experiences for veterinary students interested in food animal practice.

More details about the event can be found at

An archive of pet columns from the UI College of Veterinary Medicine is available at Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy at