Teaching the ABCs of Pet CPR

Published on April 21, 2014 by arothstein

(MERIDIAN) Four in 100; those odds do not seem to be the greatest when it comes to chances for survival. Yet that is how many times experts say an animal can be saved by CPR. Despite the low odds, the majority of experts agree that every pet owner should still know how to save their pet’s life. On this day, CPR is the subject at Meridian High School. Students from Broadview University’s veterinary technology program are visiting to supplement learning in the animal science class. Sixteen high school students are listening and watching as a trio of vet tech students teach them the ABCs of pet CPR.

John Hartley (left) shows an animal science class student at Meridian High School how to properly position her hands when administering CPR to a dog. They are practicing on Moose; a rare 4-in-100 pet CPR survivor.

While class is in session, a giant dog named Moose is roaming the room—quietly watching the commotion. As the students go through learning the motions, they discover that the large black lab is among the rare 4-in-100 survivors.

“Moose was hit by a car three years ago,” his owner, John Hartley, said. “He is now 8 years old and he is definitely one of the rare ones. If we didn’t try to save his life, he obviously wouldn’t be here.”

Hartley, who will graduate from the veterinary technology program at the Boise campus in June, already has experience working at a veterinary clinic. He and two other fellow students are here to share what they have learned in their Application of Veterinary Clinical Skills class as part of an applied learning project.

“You need to practice finding your dog’s pulse,” Hartley said. “You don’t want to have to find it during an emergency.”

While the students go into great detail on how CPR works and how much time it takes to perform it, the high school students take turns finding Moose’s heartbeat. As they practice, Dr. Amy Albrecht explains what happens during a real-life emergency in a veterinarian’s office.

Dr. Amy Albrecht (left) and Nicole Nye (right) demonstrate some of the tools that are used to perform CPR on animals.

“When we’re in a clinic everyone is hands on,” Dr. Albrecht, an adjunct instructor at Broadview University, says. “If something isn’t working, someone else comes in and takes over. At any given time, people will be administering drugs, putting in IVs, doing CPR, you name it.”

After learning that a dog’s heart is located under its arm on the left side—just behind the shoulders—students get to try their newly-learned skills on stuffed animals. Within a few minutes, many students say they are starting to get tired.

“Vet techs are the frontline defenders in determining what needs to be done first in a vet’s office,” Hartley said. “What you decide to do can ultimately save lives. This job is definitely not easy, but it is enjoyable.”

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