Shelter animals hope to find forever homes thanks to college students

Veterinary Learning Centre and Clinic gives students hands-on experience making animals adoption-ready
Photo: Stephanie Taylor
Registered veterinary technician Madison Hamilton shows off Taco, one of the kittens available for adoption at the Veterinary Learning Centre and Clinic.

Taco, a six-month-old orange tabby, has found himself in the care of Algonquin College students at the Veterinary Learning Centre and Clinic. He will stay there until he is either returned to the SPCA de l’Outaouais or he finds his forever home.

The winter semester brought a new batch of pets available for adoption, Taco being one of them. The pet adoption program is done through the VLCC, located in V-building on Algonquin College’s Woodroffe campus. The adoption program closes at the end of the winter semester but will return for the fall semester.

Madison Hamilton, a graduate of the vet tech program at Algonquin College and a current registered veterinary technician at the VLCC, believes the pet adoption program is a win-win for students and animals.

“It kind of helps with the program when the students can get hands-on learning,” said Hamilton. “It’s good for the animals because the shelters are always so full with pets, and at least when they’re here they get lots of extra loving.”

“We chose to work with animal charities to help animals as we hone our skills so helping them get homes makes sense and helping people who love animals find them is very rewarding,” said Emma Slater, a registered veterinary technician at the VLCC.

Students in their second semester of the vet tech program begin to help provide medical care to the animals. The pets are all spayed and neutered, given their vaccines, and microchipped at the VLCC.

“They give you a lot of opportunities in your second semester, so I got to watch a surgery lab, which was awesome,” said Emma MacKinlay, a second-semester vet tech student. “In the fall, I get to start doing surgeries myself, so we get to assist and start helping with anesthesia, making sure pre-labs are all finished and things like that.”

Taco and his assumed brother, Odin, were found living on the streets. Dolly, a six-month-old shepherd cross dog, was surrendered to the SPCA by her first family. Helping animals like Taco, Odin, and Dolly find their forever homes is another one of the VLCC’s goals.

Dolly went home with her new family on Jan. 26.

Dolly and RVT Madison Hamilton playing tug-of-war with Dolly's favourite toy.
Dolly and registered veterinary technician Madison Hamilton play tug-of-war with Dolly's favourite toy. Photo credit: Stephanie Taylor

“It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside because you get to see them actually go to a home versus being on the streets,” said Hamilton.

There are six-to-10 cats and one dog available for adoption at the VLCC at a time. The animals get rotated out every three-to-four weeks. If an animal hasn’t been adopted by the time their stay at the VLCC ends, they return to the SPCA. Hope for these animals isn’t lost; they are adoption-ready because of the work the students and staff at the VLCC have done.

“Actually a fun fact, one of the cats in one of our first batches of the [fall] semester wasn’t adopted here. He went back to the shelter and ended up in a PetSmart. My sister found him and adopted him there,” said Hamilton.

Anyone interested in adopting a pet at the VLCC can contact Slater at

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