TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - Students at Tarpon Springs High School interested in being a veterinarian are getting a rare opportunity to practice procedures on a dog.
It is the first grade-school in Florida, and only the second in the nation, to have access to a synthetic cadaver canine, something typically reserved for universities and vet programs.
"It's kind of an honor actually knowing that our program is as unique as it is," said Farrah Schutte, a senior. "I actually jumped up and down with joy," Schutte added, describing the excitement she felt when she first heard her school was getting the dog.
Students at the school named the 45-pound female greyhound mix ‘Sponger’ after their school mascot. The synthetic dog is meant to be used to help students simulate handling real medical cases.
"She gurgles. Her lungs expand. When you're using a stethoscope, you can hear her lungs. It's very realistic," said Jessica French, who teaches in the Veterinary Science Academy at Tarpon Springs High School.
"It helps us get familiar with how to properly cut open an organ, how to suture, how to dispose of things coming from these organs. It's a very unique experience," said Kloee Edgmon, a senior.
The canine is made by Tampa-based company SynDaver. Their patented technology, just five years old, is designed to eliminate the use of chemically preserved animals.
For the students, it completely transforms their learning experience.
"It was my goal when we developed this to create something that you could feel empathy for. Everyone is an individual. Everyone has a name," said Dr. David Danielson, VP of Veterinary Technology at SynDaver.
Students say the simulations are only solidifying their desires to pursue careers taking care of animals.
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