WSU veterinary student honored by local animal rescue - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WSU veterinary student honored by local animal rescue

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YAKIMA, Wash--It's no surprise that Nicole Putney's an animal lover.  As a veterinary student it's pretty much expected.  But what isn't as usual is the work Nicole did to change the way Washington State University treats its animals. 

Her story touched the people at Wags to Riches Animal Rescue, and they made her one of the first recipients of their Merlin scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded to veterinary students who show exceptional compassion towards animals.

"Hers kind of touched something in everybody above and beyond all of the other scholarship applications", said Juanda Krebs, a board member of Wags to Riches,

When Nicole began the veterinary program, WSU, like many other schools, took part in the colony program in which live dogs were brought from shelters to teach things like surgery and anesthesia.  The dogs were then euthanized, something Nicole found horrific.

"I felt that our training using animals in a harmful way and terminal use was contradictory to everything I believed in and the oath that I took at the beginning of vet school", Nicole Putney explained.

So she and some of her classmates pushed the faculty and administration to put an end to the program.  Thanks to their advocacy the colony program has been replaced with the spay-neuter-return program.  The animals are still brought in from shelters,  but after they have been used for teaching, they are spayed or neutered and returned to shelters... The students still get to learn and the animals get to live and are more adoptable.

"We come into vet school loving animals and we should leave vet school loving animals", Putney commented.

"She's gonna make a difference in the lives of animals everywhere.  She already made a huge difference at WSU", said Krebs.