EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 6, 2014

Puppy Love

Members of vet club put love of animals into action

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Jullian Nazzaro and Alexandra Labrecque, sophomores at North Andover High School, are more than mere lovers of animals.

Their love and passion for the other species that inhabit the planet drove them to organize the North Andover High School Pre-Veterinarian Club in November. Nazzaro and Labrecque both aspire to become veterinary surgeons.

That’s a hefty goal, considering that getting accepted into a school of veterinary medicine is even more difficult than winning a place at a medical school. Nazzaro noted that there are far more medical than veterinary schools.

“It’s very competitive,” Labrecque said of the challenge of getting accepted into a veterinary school. She also noted that while medical schools train their students to treat just one species, a veterinary school must provide instruction on how to provide care for a wide variety of animals: dogs, cats, horses, cattle, reptiles, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and many others.

The Pre-Veterinary Club is not restricted to students who want to become veterinarians. The group is open to students with other ambitions who love animals, Nazzaro and Labrecque said.

For example, Taylor Leitch, also a sophomore, hopes to become a meteorologist. Another club member, Mari Tarantino, a sophomore, has her sights set on a career as an anesthesiologist.

The club now has eight members, according to Nazzaro and Labrecque. All of them are girls. Labrecque and Nazzaro are trying to recruit more members and have placed posters around the school advertising the club.

Raising money to support animal hospitals and shelters is one of the club’s activities. They have had numerous bake sales and this past Monday, they arranged a fundraiser at Mad Maggies ice cream stand.

A portion of the shop’s earnings between 3 and 6 p.m. was donated to the Shadow Fund, which helps pay for veterinary care for pets whose owners can’t afford it. They raised $93.20.

Everyone has heard of a car wash; the Pre-Veterinary Club is contemplating doing a dog wash – when the weather gets better, of course. Instead of bringing their cars to the high school, dog owners will bring their pets to be washed and groomed by club members.

The members also volunteer their time at the MSPCA’s Nevins Farm in Methuen.

Education is another of the club’s pursuits, since a veterinarian must master the anatomies of many different species of animals. Members recently dissected the eye of a sheep.

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals,” Nazzaro said. She completed a two-month internship at the Nakajima Animal Hospital in Japan last summer.

When she was only 7, Labrecque said she “got the inspiration” to set up a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to an animal shelter.

Yes, both Nazzaro and Labrecque have pets of their own. Nazzaro’s 3-year-old dachshund, Klee, sat patiently and attentively during the interview. He’s the club mascot.

Her other dog, Daisy, is a Rottweiler. Labrecque is the proud owner of Bella, an English black Labrador retriever.

The Pre-Veterinary Club meets every Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. in room 3059.

“They’re great,” said Michael Ellison, a science teacher and faculty adviser to the club. The members themselves, he said, have taken the initiative to organize fundraisers that help animals.