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Student volunteers donating their free time in exchange for vital experience!

We received an invitation this week to a Sponsorship Dinner being held on the 23 May at Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Sciences in Pretoria. The email was from Vetsco.

A society within the University of Pretoria‘s Veterinary Faculty, Vetsco is run by a committee of 15 students and made up of around 400 members who are actively involved in outreaches to the surrounding community and its animals.

Free veterinary services are provided under the supervision of qualified veterinarians. The members of Vetsco improve the veterinary skills learnt in class, and the community and its animals are assisted through free essential medical services such as vaccinating, sterilising and deworming.

Vetsco also provides education (with a heavy focus on children and rural farmers) about relevant topics such as animal care, Rabies and production diseases like Heartwater or Anthrax.

Small animal outreaches see some 180 dogs and cats per treated; and around 850-1000 cattle, sheep and goats receive attention every production animals outreach. This totals up as 4000-4500 animals per year on average.

Benefits for the students are listed as:

  • A chance to practice and improve their practical skills (that they may only learn in class) in a real-life environment- i.e. dispensing medication, drawing up and giving vaccines, rectal exams. This not only makes them more confident and fine-tunes their skills, but also prepares them for the realities of life as a graduate vet.
  • Improve post-operation care skills.
  • Improve clinical exam skills.
  • Improve animal handling skills.
  • Improved client-doctor communication skills.
  • Improved teamwork skills working as part of a medical unit.
  • Students experience the realities of working as a vet in rural South Africa.
  • Students get the chance to work alongside graduated veterinarians- gain experience and a mentorship bond.
  • Breaking down cultural and language barriers between students and community members as they experience clients in rural South Africa.

Benefits for the community:

  • Free veterinary services- from vaccines to equipment.
  • Reduced stray animal populations via sterilization campaigns.
  • Improved pet or herd health- very important for production farmers whose livelihood depends on the animals they care for.
  • Education about zoonotic diseases and their animals’ health.
  • Reduction of parasite load due to extensive deworming and tick/flea treatments, important as it is estimated 1 in 3 South African children are affected by intestinal parasites.
  • Donated bags of high-quality pet food.



To take a look at the Vetsco wish-list for an indication of what is used on an annual basis, or to give them support, or even get involved with upcoming outreaches, contact Vetsco at v3tsco [at] or by calling  072 558 9539.

Photographs used courtesy of the Vetsco team. The Agribook.Digital “Animal health” page lists Vetsco and other animal health role players.

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