Contributed by Amanda Miller, Class of 2019
When an area experiences any form of natural disaster our first instinct is to try and help the people affected by the disaster. However, humans are not the only ones in need of help. Natural disasters can also displace animals. After the floods that happened in West Virginia in June 2016, there were many animals that lost their homes or owners, and many became extremely ill. Luckily, the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association (KCHA) stepped up to help as many of these animals as possible.
Since June, KCHA has experienced a huge influx of animals coming into the shelter—many are extremely young and very ill puppies and kittens. In these cases these animals have to be separated from the general population of the shelter and require more intense care from the veterinarian and the staff that assists them. This increased need for medical attention has made it difficult for the veterinarian technicians at KCHA to maintain a supply of prepared medications.
In order to host kittens at the shelter, most need at least 4 different medications when they first arrive. This does not include the animals who are extremely sick and will need this care for multiple days or possibly weeks of care. That means if the shelter takes in 20 kittens who require this extra care, which may require as many as three doses a day, these kittens will need 420 doses of each medication for one week. That is a lot of medication to both prepare and give to these kittens. This is where student pharmacists have stepped in to help.
As pharmacy students we have experience with preparing medications. From our first year of pharmacy school we are taught how to compound medications and how to draw medicine appropriately into syringes. So, although we do not have the know-how on how to give these medications to the sick animals, we do know the medications they are being treated with. For American Pharmacists’ Month we at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) are volunteering our time to try and help KCHA prepare medications. By taking this extra workload off the veterinary staff, we are enabling them to spend more time actually treating these animals instead of having to spend their time preparing the medications. The veterinarian and veterinarian technicians have all been extremely thankful for our help because we have been able to help when they are in such direr need of help. Because we are training to become medication experts, pharmacy students are able to offer assistance for this specific area of need.
Our hope is to continue our relationship with KCHA and volunteer not only in October for American Pharmacists Month but year-round as well. Volunteering at the shelter not only helps the community but it allows pharmacy students to put their skills and knowledge into practice while helping our furry friends!